Thursday, August 28, 2008

Anwar as Opposition Leader

Malaysiakini reports here on Anwar's swearing-in as MP Permatang Pauh and Opposition Leader:

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim is today officially parliamentary opposition leader. The newly-elected Permatang Pauh MP was sworn in this morning at the Dewan Rakyat.

Anwar arrived at Parliament at 8.55am wearing a songkok and and dark blue baju Melayu, and took his oath at 10.05am immediately after prayer recitals at the House. Soon after, he took the seat reserved for the parliamentary opposition leader, vacated by his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, three weeks ago.

The opposition leader's seat is directly opposite the prime minister's seat in the 222-member Parliament. Anwar has been declared leader of the opposition a decade after he was sacked as deputy premier and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges.

He came to Parliament together with Wan Azizah, who held his Permatang Pauh seat during his political exile, and his daughter Nurul Izzah, who is also parliamentarian for Lembah Pantai.

"I hope the member for Permatang Pauh will contribute to the proceedings of this House. I am satisfied he has been unanimously appointed leader of the opposition," said speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.


Anwar's return to mainstream Malaysian politics has been interpreted as a major setback for the BN and, in particular, Abdullah Badawi's leadership. This view is being echoed by many UMNO leaders. You can read the analysis everywhere.

What I see is that Anwar's return to Parliament, this time as Opposition Leader, holds interesting possibilities. Leaving aside, for the moment, the possibility of betrayals within BN MP ranks that will clear a passage for Anwar to ascend to Prime Ministership, what does Anwar's presence in Parliament portend? This will unfold in the weeks to come.

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