Parliament suspension looms for Malaysia`s Anwar

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim faces a six-month suspension from Parliament for linking Malaysia`s Muslim-majority govt to Israel.

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2010, 14:36 PM IST

Kuala Lumper: Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim
faces a six-month suspension from Parliament for linking Malaysia`s Muslim-majority government to Israel, triggering accusations today that authorities were trying to undermine
him amid his sodomy trial.

Federal legislators are scheduled to vote Thursday on the
suspension, which could force Anwar to miss parliamentary
debates ahead of general elections that some political pundits
believe will be held next year.

A suspension from Parliament would not affect Anwar`s
other political activities, which include frequent speeches at
opposition rallies. He is widely expected to try to convince
the public that the government is abusing its legislative
majority and seeking to sideline him.

A parliamentary disciplinary board recommended the
six-month suspension in a report presented today to
Parliament`s lower house, where the ruling National Front
coalition holds a nearly two-thirds majority.

The panel, which is also dominated by National Front
representatives, said Anwar made false remarks in Parliament
last March when he said Prime Minister Najib Razak`s push for
multiracial unity in this Muslim-majority country was inspired
by an Israeli election campaign. Malaysia is a strong
supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Anwar "abused his rights and privileges" as a member of
Parliament, the legislature`s presiding officer, Pandikar Amin
Mulia, wrote in the report.

Anwar has defended his statements, which linked Najib`s
heavily publicised "Malaysia" racial unity slogan to the "One
Israel" political alliance set up by former Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak for 1999 elections.

Anwar is currently also embroiled in a protracted trial
on charges of sodomizing a male former aide. He says the
charges were fabricated to undermine his three-party alliance
after it eroded the National Front`s parliamentary majority in
2004 elections. The government denies any conspiracy.
Opposition lawmaker Tony Pua said today that Anwar`s
three-party alliance was "disappointed that the Parliament`s
going to become a kangaroo court again."

Government lawmakers deny unfairly targeting Anwar. Nazri
Abdul Aziz, the Cabinet minister for parliamentary affairs,
said last week that Anwar deserved to be penalised as a
warning to legislators to avoid making misleading statements.
Many opposition politicians expect Najib to call snap
polls by late 2011 amid internal bickering in Anwar`s alliance
that has dampened its hopes of seizing federal power.

Bureau Report