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Game over for Anwar in Kajang

Publication Date : 08-03-2014

 

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s hopes of becoming Selangor mentri besar are over. His conviction for sodomy means he cannot stand as a candidate in the Kajang by-election.

While Election Commission chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said that he would study the issue of Anwar’s candidacy on Monday, other lawyers, including Anwar’s, acknowledge that he is disqualified from contesting.

Anwar, too, has ruled himself out, saying he and other opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat leaders would pick the best candidate for the by-election.

Aziz said the Election Commission would consult the attorney-general’s chambers on whether Anwar was eligible to contest.

He said the verdict had two implications – on Anwar’s position as Permatang Pauh MP and whether he can contest in the Kajang polls.

“This situation is unique so I will confer with our legal adviser and also the A-G’s Chambers,” he said.

He said that although Anwar could still file an appeal to the federal court, it was unclear if the appeal court verdict had ended his eligibility as a candidate.

Aziz said the matter would be sorted out by Monday, a day before nomination day for Kajang.

The Selangor Constitution states that a person cannot run for a state assembly seat immediately upon conviction of an offence and if he is sentenced to a year’s jail or more, or to a fine of not less than 2,000 ringgit, and has not received a pardon.

However, Article 64(3) says that upon conviction, the disqualification has a 14-day leeway before taking effect.

Anwar’s lead counsel Karpal Singh said the moment Anwar was convicted, he was deemed to have been disqualified. “He cannot even be nominated. The state constitution makes this very clear.”

Vice-president N. Surendran of Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) said that under the federal constitution, Anwar could not contest.

“Anwar cannot contest in the by-election due to the court’s verdict. However, he can go on nomination day and give his moral support,” he said.

Constitutional lawyer and Bar Council member Syahredzan Johan was also of the view that Anwar was disqualified.

“He cannot run for Kajang. But he remains an MP until all appeal recourse is exhausted,” said Syahredzan.

At his house yesterday, Anwar Ibrahim vowed that his “Kajang move” would not be derailed by the conviction.

“I can’t contest ... (but) I will ensure, with my colleagues in Pakatan Rakyat, that the Kajang move will not be derailed.

“It does not matter who is going to contest – he will contest in the name of Pakatan.

“I will continue to play a major role in Selangor,” said Anwar, who looked tired but was still in good cheer.

However, there was a silver lining for Anwar. According to Pakatan insiders, the loss of the candidacy may be a face-saving event for Anwar. Even if he is eligible to contest, it is not likely that the sultan of Selangor would accept anyone with a criminal conviction as mentri besar.

Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim urged Pakatan Rakyat followers to remain calm.

“Malaysia at this point should have achieved the political maturity to focus on issues relating to the development of the country and not on dirty political attacks,” he said.

Last night in Kajang, PKR deputy-president Azmin Ali urged the people to take to the streets. He said that if the Barisan Nasional could not be toppled through elections, it should be done through street demonstrations

“Therefore tonight, we launch Reformasi Rakyat 2.0,” he said.

 

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