Anwar defends Hadi as ‘loyal friend’

(The Malaysian Insider) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim defended Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang last night as criticisms mounted against the PAS president over his controversial Christmas Eve meeting with Umno.

Anwar said Hadi and PAS had always supported him when he was imprisoned in 1999.

“When I was imprisoned, the people who supported me were PAS, Tok Guru Nik Aziz, and Tok Guru Hadi Awang. They rallied thousands of supporters to pray for my well-being. They are my loyal friends,” he said during a ceramah in Gombak here last night.

Anwar was jailed for six years for corruption and sodomy but was later freed in 2004.

On Sunday, Anwar met Hadi in an attempt to clear the air over reports that PAS was seeking to revive unity talks with Umno.

Top of the agenda for the meeting between Opposition Leader Anwar and the PAS president was the Christmas Eve audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which was attended by Hadi, PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa and Umno’s top two leaders.

The dinner was seen as another attempt to revive the talks on political co-operation with Umno in the name of Malay/Muslim unity, although both Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Nik Aziz have refused to comment on the meeting.

Both Anwar and Hadi have claimed that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) had resolved the misunderstanding surrounding the Christmas Eve meeting.

Last night, Anwar also issued a warning that Umno was willing to do anything to undermine PR.

“There have been any allegations but these are only stories. Don’t believe in them,” he said.

The question of political co-operation with Umno became a major campaign issue in the 2009 PAS election after it was revealed that its leaders, including Nasharuddin and Selangor chief Datuk Hasan Ali, met then-Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo after Election 2008 to explore the possibility of forming a unity government.