Athi Veeranggan | Jul 6, 08 12:29pm
Anwar Ibrahim has challenged the government to either prove that he was an American ‘snitch’ or publicly apologise for the slanderous accusation.
The Pakatan Rakyat de facto leader gave this ultimatum at a rally in Penang’s Seberang Jaya agricultural expo centre – located in Anwar’s former parliamentary constituency of Permatang Pauh – late last night.
Describing it as another lie concocted by an irresponsible government, he hit back saying that “one cannot simply accuse me of being a US snitch without proof.”
Anwar called on Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, the man who first made the accusation, to produce ‘proof’ in an open court.
“I am prepared to be dragged to court to answer the charges. If it cannot be proven, then the government and the minister should make a public apology for the disparaging statement,” he told some 30,000 people at the rally.
Syed Hamid has accused Anwar being a US snitch when responding to a statement from Washington urging caution in the wake of fresh sodomy allegations against the opposition stalwart.
“Anwar is a ‘tukang lapor’ (snitch) to America. Every time when something happens, he reports to the US,” Syed Hamid said.
The minister also questioned Anwar’s credibility for seeking advice from foreign governments on Malaysia’s internal matters.
US State Department spokesperson Tom Casey had earlier last week said that US would oppose any politically-motivated investigation or prosecution of Anwar.
Noting that Anwar had previously faced similar charges 10 years ago and that his conviction was ultimately overturned, Casey said: “We would hope that there’s not a pattern here.”
In refuting Syed Hamid’s claim, Anwar insisted that he did not contact Washington over the sodomy allegations by his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, or the alleged threat to his life.
“When did I contacted Washington and told them about the happenings here?” he asked, challenging Syed Hamid to furnish immediate proof to substantiate his claims.
Anwar also hit out at the hypocrisy of government leaders for not criticising former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for ‘giving out millions’ to US lobbyists during his premiership.
The payments of some RM4.4 million were made to enable Mahathir to meet US President George W Bush.
“Take me to court. I have the facts to prove Mahathir’s payouts to US lobbyists,” he issued another challenge.
Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, parliamentary opposition leader and PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PKR Penang chief and and Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Mohamed Hashim kept their speeches short at the three-hour rally, sensing that the crowd had come to listen to the man of the hour, Anwar.
‘I’ll no longer forgive and forget’
In his 60-minute speech, Anwar reminded Putrajaya administration not to forget that Malaysia was being observed internationally and that any political crisis here would be viewed with keen interest and concern by many countries.
The PKR de facto leader said he was touched by the moral support from his family, Pakatan Rakyat leaders and supporters, and most of all, Malaysians from all walks of life in his hours of need.
He said everyone feared of a replay of the 1998 episode, when “I was caught, stripped naked, assaulted and left unattended in the cell.”
He also chided Putera Umno chairperson Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim for challenging him to swear on the Quran at the National Mosque to prove his innocence on Saiful’s sodomy allegations.
He likened Abdul Azeez as a ‘choir boy’ “trying to secure some contracts from his bosses”, and suggested the Putera Umno chairperson to stay away from a game played by ‘big boys’.
Anwar said he would fight to prove his innocence against the sodomy allegations, which he claims were ‘cooked up’ by certain leaders of the government.
“It’s time to put aside my ‘forget and forgive’ attitude, and fight my political opponents to the end,” vowed Anwar as he wrapped up his speech to thunderous applause of the crowd.
“It’s payback time.”