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Malaysian opposition slams "doctored" campaign adverts by ruling party.

Date: 25 Nov 1999
Time: 19:17:42


Malaysian opposition slams "doctored" campaign adverts by ruling party

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 (AFP) - Malaysia's opposition Thursday accused the ruling coalition of mounting a pre-election dirty tricks campaign and said an advertisement which claims that even Anwar Ibrahim's wife does not trust him had used fabricated quotes.

The advertisement by the National Front ran a bold headline over a picture of Wan Azizah reading: "Even she doesn't trust her husband...If she can't trust him, can we?"

Interspersed was what purported to be a question and answer from an Australian TV interview in December 1998, two months after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sacked his deputy Anwar on grounds on sexual misconduct.

"Do you trust Anwar and Syamsidar absolutely?" the interviewer was quoted as saying. Wan Azizah was quoted as replying: "Don't trust anybody absolutely."

Wan Azizah leads the National Justice Party, part of an opposition Alternative Front whose candiate for premier after November 29 polls is Anwar.

Anwar, now on trial for sodomy, is already serving a six-year jail term for abusing his official powers to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct. One of the allegations was that he fathered one of the children of Syamsidar, the wife of his political secretary Azmin Ali.

National Justice Party spokesman Raja Petra Kamarudin said the advert -- highly personal by Malaysian standards -- used doctored quotes.

He told AFP the ruling coalition spliced together answers to separate questions -- "Do you believe your husband or not?" and "Whether you believe in the courts or not?"

Raja Petra said the advert was among several other dirty tricks.

"There are a lot of things which are being doctored. We now have videotapes of Anwar allegedly having a conversation with a homosexual partner and a picture of Anwar dancing with a woman," he said.

"As we speak, the election campaign of the ruling party is getting dirtier."

Both ruling and opposition camps accuse each other of dirty tricks. The only thing on which both agree is that the coming election will be the dirtiest ever.

Earlier this week the National Front ran a series of adverts featuring photos of disturbances sparked by Anwar's treatment and accusing the opposition of being riot-prone. Analyts say the tactic aims to scare ethnic Chinese into voting for the status quo after the Anwar issue split the ethnic Malay vote.

Lim Kit Siang of the Democratic Action Party, part of the Alternative Front, has admitted the "inflammatory fear and scare" riot adverts are hurting his party's chances.

Raja Petra said the Alternative Front would ask for an audience with the king to pledge its commitment to a peaceful and clean election campaign.

Apart from attacking the opposition Mahathir has been stressing his coalition's achievements in defending Malaysia's independence from what he sees as threats by foreign forces.

On Wednesday the powerful youth wing of the ruling party accused four foreign embassies of funding the opposition, a charge which the US, British, Canadian and Australian missions denied.

Abdul Azim Zabidi, a senior UMNO youth official, told the Utusan Malaysia newspaper that diplomats were meeting politicians and attending press conferences by opposition leaders and Mahathir rallies.

He urged the government to investigate and named the US embassy and the high commissions of Canada, Australia and Britain.

"The parties which are willing to accept assistance or bribes such as this are traitors to this country and its people," he was quoted as saying.

On Thursday another Malay-language paper, Berita Harian, quoted Deputy Home Minister Azmi Khalid as saying any diplomats found to have engaged in local politics could be deported.

"They should in fact remain neutral and should not interfere with local politics," he was quoted as saying.

"We are currently looking for evidence, including pictures, to prove their involvement," Azmi said.

Last changed: November 25, 1999