Malaysia poll win offers hope: Anwar

Updated 16 May 2018
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Malaysia poll win offers hope: Anwar

  • Malaysia was on the verge of a new “golden era,” the jailed leader said.
  • I always believed in the wisdom of the people and that if we fought hard enough we would eventually prevail: Ibrahim

SYDNEY: Jailed Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim Wednesday said his country was on the verge of a new “golden era,” with the toppling of a corruption-riddled regime offering hope to people “clamouring for freedom” everywhere.
But Anwar, a leading member of the People’s Justice Party that teamed with former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to oust scandal-tainted premier Najib Razak, also cautioned that “one election does not a democracy make.”
“I always believed in the wisdom of the people and that if we fought hard enough we would eventually prevail,” he told Australia’s Fairfax Media in an interview, adding that a new “golden era” was afoot.
“At a time when democracy is in retreat around the world, I hope that the people of Malaysia have given some hope to people around the world clamouring for their own freedom.”
Anwar was heir-apparent to the premiership until Mahathir sacked him in 1998 and he was subsequently jailed for sodomy and abuse of power.
Now 70, he was imprisoned again in 2015 during Najib’s rule — after making historic gains as the head of the opposition at the 2013 elections.
But in a dramatic turnaround, his party joined forces with his former nemesis to inflict a shock defeat last week on the long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, ending its six-decade stranglehold on power.
Mahathir told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday he would be in power for one to two years, before an expected handover to Anwar, who is due to be released on Wednesday.
Malaysia’s king has agreed to pardon him, paving the way for his return to politics.
Anwar said that after working with Mahathir for many years he understands “that he cares deeply about Malaysia and the people of Malaysia.”
“A new partnership was essential to overcome the deeply entrenched, corrupt system that was presiding over Malaysia,” he said, referring to the Najib government.
“Our litmus test has always been supporting the reform agenda.
“So long as there is sincere commitment to these principles, we have always welcomed new supporters. The animosity which preoccupies some observers is not an issue for me.”
Even while in jail, Anwar said he had detected growing outrage among Malaysians against Najib, who has been accused of involvement in plundering billions of dollars from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.
Anwar said the hardest thing about being in jail was its impact on his family.
“My children were quite young during the earlier period of incarceration and that was a difficult period for them and (his wife, Wan) Azizah,” he said.
“It is pure agony to see your own children struggling because of decisions you made. This time (in jail) it is my children’s children who I missed deeply.
“But as a family, we were in concert that we cannot expect the people of Malaysia to take a risk for their freedom if we ourselves were not prepared to take those same risks.
“As the days and weeks wore on I never lost hope. In fact, even from within the prison cell I sensed that the outrage against a corrupt regime was increasing by the day.”


Leaders of two Koreas hold surprise meeting as Trump revives summit hopes

Updated 27 May 2018
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Leaders of two Koreas hold surprise meeting as Trump revives summit hopes

SEOUL/WASHINGTON: South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a surprise meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Saturday in an effort to ensure that a high-stakes summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump takes place successfully, South Korean officials said.
The meeting was the latest dramatic turn in a week of diplomatic flip-flops surrounding the prospects for an unprecedented summit between the United States and North Korea, and the strongest sign yet that the two Korean leaders are trying to keep the on-again off-again summit on track.
Their two hours of talks at the Panmunjom border village came a month after they held the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade at the same venue. At that meeting, they declared they would work toward a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
“The two leaders candidly exchanged views about making the North Korea-US summit a successful one and about implementing the Panmunjom Declaration,” South Korea’s presidential spokesman said in a statement. He did not confirm how the meeting was arranged or which side asked for it.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. But White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said an advance team of White House and US State Department officials would leave for Singapore on schedule this weekend to prepare for a possible summit there.
Reuters reported earlier this week that a US advance team was scheduled to discuss the agenda and logistics for the summit with North Korean officials.
“There is a very strong possibility a US-North Korea summit could be back on very soon,” said Harry Kazianis of the conservative Center for the National Interest think-tank in Washington.
Whether one takes place depends on Kim agreeing to some sort of a realistic and verifiable denuclearization plan, added Kazianis, citing his own Trump administration sources. “If not, no summit. That is what it hinges on,” he said.
TRUMP HAILS “PRODUCTIVE TALKS“
In a letter to Kim on Thursday, Trump had said he was canceling the summit planned for June 12 in Singapore, citing North Korea’s “open hostility.”
But on Friday he indicated the meeting could be salvaged after welcoming a conciliatory statement from Pyongyang.
“We’re talking to them now. They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
In a tweet later, Trump cited “very productive talks” and said that if the summit were reinstated it would likely remain in Singapore on June 12, and that it could be extended if necessary.
A senior White House official told reporters on Thursday that organizing a summit by June 12 could be a challenge, given the amount of dialogue needed to ensure a clear agenda.
“And June 12 is in ... 10 minutes,” the official said.
If the summit is not held, some analysts warn that the prospect of a military confrontation between the two nations would rise, while a successful summit would mark Trump’s biggest foreign policy achievement.
The Trump administration is demanding that North Korea completely and irreversibly shutter its nuclear weapons program. Kim and Trump’s initial decision to meet followed months of war threats and insults between the leaders over the program.
Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests, and has developed a long-range missile that could theoretically hit anywhere in the United States. Experts, however, are doubtful that North Korea possesses a warhead capable of surviving the stresses of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.
Video and a photo released by South Korea’s presidential Blue House on Saturday showed Kim hugging Moon and kissing him on the cheek three times as he saw Moon off after their meeting at Tongilgak, the North’s building in the truce village, which lies in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) — the 2.5-mile (4 km) wide buffer that runs along the heavily armed military border.
Video footage also showed Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, greeting Moon as he arrived at Tongilgak and shaking hands, before the South Korean leader entered the building flanked by North Korean military guards.
Moon is the only South Korean leader to have met a North Korean leader twice, both times in the DMZ, which is a symbol of the unending hostilities between the nations after the Korean War ended in 1953 in a truce, not a peace treaty.