KUALA LUMPUR - Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, speaking on the eve of his final appeal against a sodomy conviction, said he must set an example to fellow Malaysians in the struggle against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).
"The issue is not Anwar or the premiership. If the issue is purely personal agenda, I can remain outside (Malaysia) and set up arrangements including a government-in-exile (but) this is my country, my village," he told reporters on Monday at a press conference.
Datuk Seri Anwar heads to the Federal Court - the nation's apex court - on Tuesday for a two-day hearing on the sodomy allegation that has dogged the former deputy prime minister since 2008.
If the court upholds the decision to jail him, it would likely spell the end of his active political career as the minimum five-year jail sentence will be followed by a five-year ban from running in elections.
But Mr Anwar said he rejected offers of asylum from the likes of the United Kingdom and Turkey, saying there is a "need to ensure this country transforms itself as a vibrant democracy."
However, the disparate Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance faces an uncertain future without the charismatic leader who has led them to record electoral gains in the last two polls.
The secular and Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) are often at odds with the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), with Mr Anwar's multiracial People's Justice Party (PKR) seen as the glue to bring the pact onto a common platform.
Without Mr Anwar's leadership, PR is also left without a broadly accepted prime ministerial candidate.
Malaysia has never had a non-Malay prime minister and PR's key vote bank of Chinese voters remain uncomfortable with PAS' conservative president Abdul Hadi Awang.