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Malaysia: Holding on to Power

Updated On: Sep 22, 2008

Malaysia's Prime Minister Adbullah Badawi has rejected calls by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to recall parliament early from its standard recess time that is scheduled to end the middle of October for a no-confidence motion against Badawi. Badawi promised Anwar that he could use the October parliamentary sitting to carry out his agenda, whatever it may be.

Anwar gave the ultimatum deadline of 23 September 2008 for the emergency session to be held so that he can start the process of forming a new Federal government. Coincidentally, 23 September 2008 is one day before his sodomy court hearing. But Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia declared that the Parliament Standing Orders allowed only the Prime Minister to call for an emergency session. Even if Badawi agrees, he would have to provide 14 days notice for such a session to be called.

PM Abdullah insists that parliamentarians should be allowed to continue with Ramadan observation and an emergency session is not urgently required. If PM Abdullah continues with his refusal to hold the emergency session, Anwar has threatened to hold talks with Pakatan Rakyat leaders and will turn to legal and constitutional avenues as well as consulting with the King.

The reason for Anwar’s urgency in his own words was that Malaysia was now in a political crisis and deadlock. He cites the arrests under ISA, the cabinet reshuffles, Malaysia’s economic woes and internal UMNO disagreements are reasons for the emergency session. Anwar’s priority, in his words, is for a smooth transition to a new leadership under him. Meanwhile PM Abdullah has reiterated his intentions of not using ISA on Anwar unless he becomes a threat to the country.

Most of all, Anwar considers the Badawi administration as an opposition rather than reigning parties, given the numbers of defectors he has claimed to gather. PM Abdullah on the other hand has challenged Anwar to publicize the alleged list of defectors. In hiw view, the opposition still has only 84 MPs against the government's 138, if the Sabah Progressive Party SAPP’s conversion of status to independent is taken into account.

Sources:

Goh, Melissa, "Malaysian PM Abdullah against recalling parliament for emergency session" dated 19 September 2008 in Channelnewsasia website [downloaded on 19 September 2008], available at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/southeastasia/view/376945/1/.html

The Star, "Now Anwar wants PM to convene Parliament by Tuesday" dated 19 September 2008 in the Star website [downloaded on 19 September 2008], available at http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/9/19/nation/2070687&sec=...







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