Malaysia’s Mahathir says would back old foe Anwar as prime minister

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad smiles during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, in this March 30, 2017 file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 06 July 2017

Malaysia’s Mahathir says would back old foe Anwar as prime minister

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is seeking the release of jailed opposition leader, and once bitter foe, Anwar Ibrahim, and would have no objection to him being premier, the Guardian reported on Thursday.
In an interview with the Guardian in London, Mahathir said Anwar should be released from jail, where he is serving a five-year sentence for sodomy, and allowed to contest elections as he was a victim of a political vendetta.
Anwar is seen as the greatest threat to Prime Minister Najib Razak and his coalition, after leading a three-party opposition alliance to stunning electoral gains in 2013.
“In the case of Anwar we can make a case that he was unfairly treated. The decision of the court was obviously influenced by the government and I think the incoming government would be able to persuade the king to give a full pardon for Anwar,” Mahathir told the Guardian.
“In which case he would be able to participate in politics and become PM. I can have no objection to that.”
Malaysia’s political landscape has been shaped for nearly two decades by a bitter feud between Anwar and Mahathir.
Anwar was once a protégé of the veteran prime minister, Mahathir, and the rising star of Malaysian politics, but they fell out in the late 1990s.
Soon afterwards, Anwar was jailed for the first time on charges of sodomy and graft, after being sacked as the deputy prime minister. He denied the charges, dismissing them as politically motivated.
He was convicted and jailed in 2013, when Najib was prime minister, for another sodomy charge, which he and his supporters described as a politically motivated attempt to end his career.
But after their years of animosity, opposition to Prime Minister Najib is drawing Anwar and Mahathir back together.
Last year, Anwar endorsed a political compact spearheaded by Mahathir to fight Najib.
Najib has been embroiled in a corruption scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad. He has denied any wrongdoing, even as the fund became the subject of money laundering investigations in the US and at least five other countries.
The sodomy conviction disqualifies Anwar from political office and from contesting the next election that must be held by mid-2018. A royal pardon, however, would let him contest.
Government sources have told Reuters that Najib had been preparing to call polls in September, but the timing has since become less clear in the wake of the scandals.
Last month, Anwar said he would not be a candidate for prime minister in the upcoming elections.
Mahathir, who turns 92 next week, has said he would consider taking up the premier position again, but only if there was no acceptable candidate after an opposition election victory.


Amazon indigenous leaders accuse Brazil of ‘genocide’ policy

Updated 18 January 2020

Amazon indigenous leaders accuse Brazil of ‘genocide’ policy

  • Hundreds of elders gathered this week at Pairacu, deep in the rainforest, to form a united front against Bolsonaro’s environmental policies
  • “We do not accept mining on our lands, loggers, illegal fishermen or hydroelectricity. We are opposed to anything that destroys the forest,” a leader said

PIARACU: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s pledge to open up the Amazon to mining companies was tantamount to “genocide,” indigenous leaders said Friday at a meeting to oppose the government’s environmental policies.
Hundreds of elders gathered this week at Pairacu, deep in the rainforest, to form a united front against Bolsonaro’s environmental policies, which have seen deforestation in the jungle nearly double since the Brazilian leader came to power a year ago.
“Our aim was to join forces and denounce the fact that the Brazilian government’s political policy of genocide, ethnocide and ecocide is under way,” the group said in a draft manifesto drawn up at the end of the summit.
“We do not accept mining on our lands, loggers, illegal fishermen or hydroelectricity. We are opposed to anything that destroys the forest,” the text said.
They also said that “government threats and hate speech” had encouraged violence against Amazon communities and demanded punishment for the murder of indigenous leaders.
At least eight indigenous leaders were killed last year.
Brazil’s leading indigenous chief, Raoni Metuktire, said Thursday he would personally travel to the capital Brasilia to present the meeting’s demands to Congress.
“Over there, I’m going to ask Bolsonaro why he speaks so badly about the indigenous peoples,” said the 89-year-old leader of the Kayapo tribe.
Preliminary data collected by the National Institute for Space Research showed an 85 percent increase in Amazon deforestation last year when compared to 2018.