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.


Indian officials warn of lockdown extensions as COVID-19 cases in South Asia near 6,000

Updated 04 April 2020

Indian officials warn of lockdown extensions as COVID-19 cases in South Asia near 6,000

  • Modi said this week the country will pull out of the planned three-week lockdown in a phased manner
  • India has been hardest hit by the disease in South Asia with some 2,902 cases, of which 68 have died

MUMBAI: The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in South Asia neared 6,000 on Saturday, even as authorities in some cities tightened restrictions on movement and warned lockdowns could be extended in a bid to rein in the pandemic.
“If people don’t obey the rules seriously and cases continue to rise, then there may be no option but to extend the lockdown,” Rajesh Tope, the health minister of Maharashtra state which includes the financial hub Mumbai, told Reuters. “It could be extended in Mumbai and urban areas of Maharashtra by two weeks.”
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this week the country will pull out of the planned three-week lockdown in a phased manner. India has been hardest hit by the disease in South Asia with some 2,902 cases, of which 68 have died.
Maharashtra has 516 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — and 26 people have died.
While the government does plan to review the lockdown, set to end on April 14, three senior officials told Reuters this will depend on an assessment of the situation in each state, and lockdowns and restrictions would be extended in districts where the coronavirus case spread has continued.
Public transport in large metros such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi, may only be restored in a phased manner days after the lockdown ends, said the officials, who asked not to be named as the plans were still under discussion.
Restrictions tightened
The number of COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in South Asia in the last week. Health experts warn an epidemic in the region, home to a fifth of the world’s population, could overwhelm its already weak public health systems.
But Muslim-majority Pakistan and Bangladesh, and India, home to the world’s largest Muslim minority, have struggled to convince conservative religious groups to maintain social distancing.
On Friday, Pakistani Muslims at a Karachi mosque clashed with baton-wielding police trying to enforce new curbs on gatherings to prevent Friday prayers and contain coronavirus infections, officials said.
This came after the government in the southern province of Sindh, home to the financial hub of Karachi, enforced a three-hour curfew on Friday afternoon, in a bid to persuade Muslim worshippers to pray at home.
Pakistan has so far reported 2,547 coronavirus infections, fueled by a jump in cases related to members of the Tablighi Jamaat, an orthodox Muslim proselytising group.

Following is data on the spread of the coronavirus in South Asia, according to government figures:

* India has registered 2,902 cases, including 68 deaths.
* Pakistan has registered 2,547 cases, including 37 deaths.
* Afghanistan has registered 281 cases, including 6 deaths.
* Sri Lanka has registered 159 cases, including 5 deaths.
* Bangladesh has registered 61 cases, including six deaths.
* Maldives has registered 32 cases and no deaths.
* Nepal has registered six cases and no deaths.
* Bhutan has registered five cases and no deaths.