Malaysia’s Anwar confident PM handover will go as planned

Former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim speaks at the Singapore Summit in Singapore on September 15, 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 September 2018

Malaysia’s Anwar confident PM handover will go as planned

  • Anwar and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad put aside their 20-year feud to help their four-party alliance win elections in May
  • The government has clamped down on corruption by making the country’s anti-corruption body accountable to Parliament instead of just the prime minister

SINGAPORE: Malaysia’s designated prime minister-in-waiting, Anwar Ibrahim, said Saturday that he has no reason to doubt his former political nemesis will hand over the leadership position within two years as planned after sorting out deep-seated issues like corruption.
Anwar and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad put aside their 20-year feud to help their four-party alliance win elections in May, leading to the country’s first change of power since independence from Britain in 1957.
Anwar, 70, was convicted of sodomy in 2015 in a case that he said was politically motivated. He was freed and pardoned by the king shortly after the recent elections.
The alliance had agreed that Mahathir would be prime minister and then hand over the reins to Anwar. On Saturday, Anwar said that contesting a by-election after a lawmaker from his party resigned earlier in the week was “well within the plan” of his eventual succession, but that he was in no rush to take over.
“I think the succession plan is as agreed,” Anwar said. “Let Prime Minister Mahathir conduct the affairs of the state. We support him, that’s important. And I don’t think we should be rushing to it, because he’s playing a very critical role for the country.”
“The country needs stability and a strong leader now and I want to make sure that he is effective in his position,” he added.
Anwar spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the Singapore Summit, which was attended by business leaders and academics from Asia.
He said he has a close relationship with Mahathir and sees no reason to doubt his sincerity, given how he has acted in the four months since the historic electoral victory.
The government has clamped down on corruption by making the country’s anti-corruption body accountable to Parliament instead of just the prime minister, Anwar said.
It also has recovered millions from the $4.5 billion that reportedly was misappropriated from the indebted 1MDB Malaysian state investment fund, he added.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is facing seven charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering involving the transfer of 42 million ringgit ($10.2 million) into his bank accounts from SRC International, a former unit of the 1MDB fund.
Mahathir, 93, has endorsed Anwar’s move to contest the by-election and said he would not renege on his promise to hand over power, despite not having settled on a date.
A by-election will be held in the southern coastal town of Port Dickson after a lawmaker from Anwar’s party resigned to make way for his comeback. The Election Commission will set a date for the vote, which must be held within two months.


UK PM Boris Johnson urged to be ‘tougher’ on Iran

Updated 25 January 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson urged to be ‘tougher’ on Iran

  • Richard Ratcliffe says his jailed wife is ‘being held hostage’ by Tehran
  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained in 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison

LONDON: The husband of a British-Iranian woman jailed by Tehran over charges of espionage has urged the UK to be “tougher” with the regime.

Richard Ratcliffe made the comments after a meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on Thursday. 

Ratcliffe said there had been “no breakthrough” in discussions between the two nations to secure her release, and his wife was being used as a “chess piece” by Iran. 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained in 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison for “plotting to topple the Iranian government.” She and her family maintain that she was in the country to visit relatives.Speaking outside the prime minister’s residence in Downing Street, Ratcliffe told reporters that the meeting had been warm in nature, but hinted that the government was not doing enough.

“The prime minister was there, the foreign secretary was there, (we) talked quite openly about having tried a number of different things to get Nazanin home,” he said. 

“We pressed him (Johnson) to be brave. I want him to push forward on improving relations. You need to be imposing a cost on Iran for holding innocent people as leverage, you’ve got to be brave there as well. The government doesn’t always say it, but in my view, Nazanin is being held hostage.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Arab News.

The Downing Street meeting comes ahead of an impending court case over a long-term trade dispute between the UK and Iran, with London accused of owing Tehran debts over an arms deal from the 1970s.

Labour Party MP Tulip Siddiq, who represents the parliamentary seat of Hampstead and Kilburn, where Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family live, called on the government to settle the debt in order to help facilitate her release.

But MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, told the BBC that the issue was “extraordinarily difficult.” 

He suggested that setting a precedent of capitulating on legal disputes in return for the release of UK nationals could entice foreign governments and groups to threaten other UK citizens abroad. “The risk that would pose to British citizens traveling abroad would be very considerable,” he said.

Johnson was blamed by many in 2017, when he was foreign secretary, for having worsened Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s situation in Iran when, in a statement to the House of Commons, he claimed that he had been briefed that she was in Tehran training journalists. 

Despite claims from other politicians, her family and her employer, the Thompson Reuters Foundation, that he had been misinformed, the statement was subsequently used as evidence against her in court.