Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Malaysia: Anwar landslide good for democracy

In a triumphant culmination to a tumultuous summer, Anwar Ibrahim today regained his parliamentary seat in Permatang Pauh in a landslide electoral victory, winning 31,195 of 47,000 votes. A victorious Anwar called the occasion a 'defining moment' that should serve as a 'major lesson' for the ruling BN. Shortly thereafter, some people were demanding that the hapless Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should quit.*

In the March 2008 Malaysia general elections, Anwar Ibrahim's three-party alliance won an unprecedented 82 of parliament's 222 seats — 30 short of a majority — and wrested control of five states. But then in early July the government had him arrested on sodomy charges. IHT has a political timeline of the career of Anwar Ibrahim.

I've listened to Anwar speak, and few Southeast Asian politicians come closer to articulating the meaning of democracy. This is a great moment for Malaysia.
* Malaysiakini. Most of Malaysia's big newspapers are government-controlled, but Malaysiakini is not.

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