Sunday 20 April 2008

Malaysia: Newly launched People’s Alliance claims it is ready to topple government

from LINKS - International Journal of Socialist Renewal There have been dramatic developments in Malaysia since the ruling National Front (Barisan Nasional ­ BN) government had its majority in parliament reduced sharply in general elections on 8 March. Opposition parties, which won five out of 13 state governments, formed a new People’s Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat) on 1 April. Police disrupted a large opposition rally on 14 April to mark the end of the government’s five year ban on opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim participating in politics. Anwar claimed at the rally he now has enough defections from government MPs to form federal government but will not make the move till he increases his majority. At this stage, the People's Alliance comprises the Justice Party (Parti Keadilan - PKR), the Islamic Party (PAS) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP). Peter Boyle, from the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) in Australia interviewed S.Arutchelvan, the Secretary General of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) on 18 April. The PSM won a state and a federal seat in the recent elections, running under the logo of the Justice Party because the government refuses the PSM registration as a political party, having branded it a “threat to natonal security”.

You were present at the police disrupted April 14 opposition rally addressed by Anwar Ibrahim last week. Can you describe what happened?

It was a huge rally drawing easily more than 20,000. The crowd was very well-behaved throughout the program which was held in open air sports complex. The speeches besides Anwar’s were very short. Around 10.20pm, about 20 police personnel moved towards the rostrum while Anwar was still speaking. The crowd was irritated with police interference. Anwar spoke to the police, told the crowd to be calm and then he announced that he is ending his speech. He thanked everyone. The crowd then dispersed peacefully. At 6.30am the next morning the police went to serve 111 notices to four leaders of Pakatan Rakyat including the new Chief Minister of Selangor state, Khalid Ibrahim, and PKR President Dr Wan Azizah Ismail. This is sheer harassment and an infringement of the freedom of assembly.


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