Anwar still finds Najib wanting

By Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

There was no let up in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's attack on Datuk Seri Najib Razak's first day as prime minister with the opposition leader finding inconsistencies in the latter's decision to release 13 Internal Security Act detainees.

Just three hours after Najib had announced the release of two Hindraf leaders and 11 others, Anwar told 5,000 supporters in Bukit Selambau that so long as the ISA existed, Barisan Nasional could still detain citizens at will.

"Pakatan Rakyat still protests against this draconian law. They can still detain, then release, detain and release. Where is the justice? What kind of government is this?" he said last night.

The PKR de facto leader also played down the significance of the move, no doubt conscious of the effect it could have on the three by-elections on Tuesday.

"Yesterday they were terrorists, today they are innocent. Do not forget Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did the same, but then more were detained later," he reminded the audience.

The Permatang Pauh MP added that this flip-flopping was symptomatic of the Umno-led BN.

"When we said the RM7 billion economic stimulus package was not enough, they said, no, this is enough. Then Najib announced a new RM60 billion plan and they said we support it. When the government called the detainees terrorists, they supported. Now it says they are suddenly innocent and they also support."

Speaking to reporters later, he clarified that he welcomed the release of the 13 detainees but criticised the statement that the law will be studied.

"It was meant to stop militant communism and should have been repealed once it was resolved. There is no rationale to start studying now. It should simply be repealed immediately," he said.

He also brushed aside suggestions that the release of two Hindraf leaders would affect the loyalties of Indian voters who make up 30 per cent of the electorate in Bukit Selambau.

"The release of Hindraf leaders is just one of the demands of the Indian community. For as long as they are still treated as second-class citizens, BN should not think that all the problems are over," he said.

Anwar also insisted that the ISA releases would not have a significant impact on the three ongoing by-elections as all newly installed prime ministers did so and PR had already accounted for it in its plans.

While he refused to speculate on the intentions behind the release, he said the government should not "use it to delude the people that injustices can continue to be perpetrated."

Earlier, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak also moved to refute the notion that his government has not brought any improvements in the 13 months since PR took over the state.

It comes on the back of some electoral groups in Bukit Selambau making known that they are unhappy with the running of the state government.

He reminded those present of the RM83 billion Kedah Hidrocarbon Hub and announced that the megaproject would take off in July.

"By 2013, oil refining will bring the state RM400 million a year," he said, adding that it would increase to RM600 million to RM800 million a year by the next year.

The PAS leader said his only worry now was that his government would be destabilised before the project could begin to produce returns and urged Bukit Selambau to elect S. Manikumar.

He praised the PKR candidate and pointed out that his MBA and good business acumen would be an asset to the state executive council as he was assured the appointment should he win on Tuesday.