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Priority to Malay unity, but talks can include national unity
K Kabilan, 'Ein Azmi and Zakiah Koya

8:57pm, Fri: Umno is open to talks on national unity in its proposed meeting with PAS, said Umno president Dr Mahathir Mohamad today. However, he said that priority will be given to discussion on Malay unity during the meeting.

“We can discuss about national unity but we want to start with Malay unity talks first,” said Mahathir after chairing a three-hour Umno supreme council meeting.

He added that Umno does not reject the suggestion by PAS president Fadzil Noor to include national unity matters in the proposed talks.

According to Mahathir, the talks will now only involve PAS and Umno as Keadilan has rejected the invitation on grounds that it is a multiracial party.

Open discussion

Umno proposed early this month for full-scale discussions between leaders of Umno, PAS and Keadilan on issues pertaining to the Malay unity, adding that such talks would be done with no pre-conditions imposed on PAS and Keadilan for them to join the discussions.

The proposal was mooted by Umno’s management and disciplinary committee and the suggestion was brought to the party’s supreme council for discussion today.

Mahathir said that members of the supreme council were given the opportunity to voice their views on the talks, adding that all preliminary preparations will be done by the secretary-generals of Umno and PAS.

Mahathir also said that the council has not decided on the agenda of the talks.

“We will approach the talks with an open mind. We will not dictate our terms to them and they, too, won’t want to do that,” he said.

He said that Umno’s motive to suggest such a talk was to unite the divided Malays.

“The division is too obvious,” he added.

Letter of rejection

Mahathir also mentioned that Umno recently received a letter from Keadilan stating its rejection to the talks.

Keadilan’s letter, signed by its president Dr Wan Aziziah Wan Ismail, also noted that there was no disunity amongst the Malays but only a shift in Malay support to the opposition, he said.

Keadilan has rejected the proposed talks on the grounds that any such talks should include national matters, such as corruption, abuse of power, mismanagement of the economy, police brutality and Executive interference in the judiciary.

PAS too has said previously that it was only agreeable to join the talks on the condition that they include matters pertaining to national unity.

PAS’ reaction

Meanwhile, in an immediate reaction to what Mahathir said at the supreme council meeting, PAS leader Fadzil told malaysiakini that his party is willing to hold talks with Umno “only if the scope is widened to include national unity”.

“We agree to hold the talks provided that we are allowed to discuss national unity and not Malay unity alone,” Fadzil reiterated.

PAS Youth chief Mahfuz Omar, however, is standing his ground, saying that PAS has decided in its central committee meeting - held last Saturday - that the party “totally rejects Malay unity talks”.

“Even if Malay unity is one of the issues, we will not agree to hold the talks with Umno. If Umno publicises the talks as a ‘Malay unity’ talk, we will not attend. We do not want Malay unity talks.

“We want the talks to be on national unity - not on Malay unity. Yes, we have accepted the invitation but that does not mean that we would attend the talks if they are on Malay unity. This is what we have agreed to in PAS,” said Mahfuz.

Earlier, when Mahathir was asked by a journalist to comment on Mahfuz’s strong stand against the proposed talks, he said, “We only listen to the president”.


Transcript of the CNN live interview with the International Free Anwar Campaign

News; International
Petition Delivered To UN Office In Kuala Lumpur
Karuna Shinsho

08 January 2001
CNN International: Asia Tonight

UN secretary-general Kofi Annan is set to receive a petition calling for an international campaign to free Malaysia's jailed former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. The petition was presented to the UN office in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. 

KARUNA SHINSHO, ASIA TONIGHT: United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan is set to receive a petition signed by more than 20,000 people. That petition calls on Annan to lead an international campaign to free Malaysia's jailed former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. The petition was presented to the UN office in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. 

Anwar's supporters say his trial and conviction were politically motivated. The Malaysian government denies the charge. For more details on the petition, we are joined on the phone from Kuala Lumpur by Raja Petra Kamarudin. He is the director of the Free Anwar Campaign. 

Mr. Kamarudin, why the petition to the United Nations? 

RAJA PETRA KAMARUDIN, FREE ANWAR CAMPAIGN: Well, we've been actually sending letters and petitions to various governments, not only the UN. We've sent one to the British parliament. We've sent another one to the U.S. Congress and even to the Australian parliament and all of our councils and things. 

So it was just a matter of time before we get around to the UN. 

SHINSHO: Now the petitions before the UN, have they worked at all? Is it sort of a last resort for you? 

KAMARUDIN: Oh, no, no. We don't think that this is final in the sense that this is just one more exercise that we are going through in the many, and we feel that we have not exhausted all the avenues that we have open.

For instance, we are working on the Middle East countries to get support from the Middle East countries. And recently, when Dr. Mahathir went for the OIC conference, he made an appointment to meet one of the - you can say renowned and well-respected religious leaders, and they refused to see him. And they said they will not deal with him until he releases Anwar from jail immediately and unconditionally. 

SHINSHO: Realistically, though, in this case, what can the United Nations really do when the Malaysian government itself says that justice has been served? 

KAMARUDIN: We want -- well, we hope the UN will come out with a statement as what all the other organizations so far has done, and I think the whole list you can see on our Web site. 

What we want is to bring international pressure on Dr. Mahathir so that not only organizations or non-government organizations and bar councils and all that, but even governments and finally, of course, United Nations come out with a very strong statement asking that either Anwar be released or be retried in a proper court. 

SHINSHO: OK. Raja Petra Kamarudin, director of the Free Anwar Campaign. We thank you very much for your time. 


Copyright © 2000 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

Raja Petra Kamarudin


The STAR publishes false report on Anwar Ibrahim's letter

The Star, a Malaysian daily tabloid known to be closely linked to a Chinese-based political party within the ruling coalition, today, falsely reported the contents of the letter that was sent to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital on 5 January 2001.

The letter to the KLGH said, consideration Anwar's condition has not improved the last seven weeks or so that he has been in hospital, that Anwar be allowed to undergo Endoscopic Micro Spinal surgery to correct his spinal problem.

(Full text of the letter can be read here).

The Star news report headline however said, "Anwar requests to undergo spine operation overseas".

It then went on to say, "Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has asked that he be allowed to undergo a spine operation which is available overseas".

The report added, "Nair said Anwar had sought the opinion of several local and foreign specialists."

According to Anwar's wife, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the Star news report is false as at no time whatsoever did Anwar asked for his surgery to be performed overseas.

Furthermore, it was not Anwar but his family and friends who had sought the opinion of local and foreign specialists.

Wan Azizah added that Anwar's lawyer, Nair, also did not make any statement to the Star as reported. 

The Star report is completely false and has distorted the actual situation thereby giving the wrong impression.

FAC News has received phone calls from many people asking about the accuracy of the Star report that contradicts the FAC News report of the previous day. The FAC News report was based on the copy of the letter which was faxed to the media and which was floated onto the FAC Website.

Raja Petra Kamarudin

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