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Malaysia's Anwar Says He Has Enough Parliament Support to Topple Government


Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says he has enough support from lawmakers to bring down the government, a claim Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi denies. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins has more, from Jakarta.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim Tuesday sought a meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to discuss what he calls a smooth transition of power.

"It depends on the initial discussion that we have. I don't preempt that. But I hope that he can respond positively and then we will present the case. I have the numbers, so, I am prepared to say it," he said.

Anwar says more than enough lawmakers have switched from the ruling coalition to his opposition alliance, giving him the majority support he needs to bring the government down.

Prime Minister Abdullah brushed off Anwar's claims, saying his government will remain in power.

There has been increasing pressure on the government since it lost its two-thirds parliament majority in the March general elections, the first time the ruling Barisan Nacional lost its majority since independence, more than 50 years ago.

Anwar has pledged to end corruption and promote racial equality by ending the government's long-time policy of affirmative action for ethnic Malays, which ethnic Indians and Chinese Malaysians say is discriminatory.

Political analyst Koo Kay Peng says Anwar's popularity is at an all-time high, in part because Malaysians have become more aware of their rights.

"I feel very optimistic and I think there's a sense of awakeness - people are being more awakened of their rights," he said. "People are more awaken of their role in society building. And, we are beginning to see that young voices coming up to champion and even promote non-racialism. These young voices cut across racial lines."

Anwar says, if Mr. Abdullah refuses to meet with him, he may have to wait until parliament reconvenes, October 18, to take power.


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