Anwar vows to make Parliament truly effective

Politician makes promise as he seeks return to government in upcoming by-election

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, with other PKR leaders at the press conference yesterday.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, with other PKR leaders at the press conference yesterday.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim yesterday vowed to make Parliament "truly effective" if he wins an upcoming by-election in Port Dickson.

In a press conference held at his Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) headquarters in Petaling Jaya, the 71-year-old also pledged his "full and solid support" for Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in managing the country.

Datuk Seri Anwar said he had asked Tun Dr Mahathir for the space to make Parliament truly effective as a vehicle in the democratic system.

"In that way, I hope we can firm up the collaboration with Tun Mahathir and friends to strengthen the government machinery and fulfil the trust that has been given," he added.

Also at the press conference were Mr Anwar's wife, Deputy Prime Minister and PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the party's deputy president Azmin Ali, and vice-president Rafizi Ramli.

"The fact that the entire leadership is here, it shows that we don't take any by-election lightly. We will have to appeal to the voters, we'll explain our position, we trust that they give us the support but we will work very hard," he said.

Dr Mahathir led the Pakatan Harapan coalition to victory in general elections in May under a plan in which he would hand over the reins of power to Mr Anwar in two years. Member of Parliament Danyal Balagopal Abdullah then resigned the Port Dickson seat on Sept 12 to pave the way for Mr Anwar's return to government.

On his campaign plans at the seaside town, Mr Anwar said he had made it "very clear" he did not want government facilities or machinery used during the by-election, and that ministers from his party would campaign as party leaders.

Malaysia's Election Commission on Thursday announced that the by-election for Port Dickson will be held on Oct 13. Nomination day is on Sept 29. A total of 75,770 people are eligible to vote.

Mr Anwar, who was released from prison in May after a royal pardon for a sodomy conviction that he maintains was politically motivated, said he had "excellent access" to Dr Mahathir, which prevented any attempts to sow discord between the two erstwhile foes.

A peaceful and strong government under the leadership of his former enemy-turned-ally is crucial "so we can begin the process of change that is urgent", he noted. He called on leaders to give their "full undivided support to Dr Mahathir to ensure that the transition is peaceful, and, more critically, effective, to ensure that the major reform agenda is being effected and implemented".

Port Dickson resident Fiza Abdul Hamid, 35, told The Straits Times she hoped Mr Anwar would help turn the sleepy town into a vibrant tourist spot.

"Around 8pm to 9pm, everything becomes quiet, like a ghost town. Visitors ask us what they can do at night here, but there's really nothing much to do," she said. "I really hope if Datuk Seri Anwar becomes the MP here, and later prime minister, he will be able to liven up the place, build more recreation parks and facilities."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2018, with the headline 'Anwar vows to make Parliament truly effective'. Subscribe