Kuala Lumpur, Nov 30: Malaysia's opposition leader has refused to concede defeat months after missing a deadline to seize power but admitted his plan to sign up defecting lawmakers had been a "headache".
After March general elections that saw the opposition alliance gain stunning victories, Anwar Ibrahim said he would topple the government by September 16. But that deadline came and went and the promised mass defections from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition never materialised. His momentum stalled in October when Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi agreed to stand down next March, defusing public anger at the government's handling of the economy and failure to introduce promised reforms.
But Anwar was defiant at the annual congress of his Keadilan party, urging his supporters to continue to campaign against the Barisan Nasional which has ruled Malaysia for half a century. "Despite September 16... I am still very confident that we will form the next government," he said to thunderous applause from a crowd of more than 10,000 late yesterday.
"When (will we take over)? Wait. Until then, shake the foundations," he said. "Take it from me, not as Anwar but a representative of the conscience of this party and struggle, we are with you heart and soul, we will fight, we will struggle, we will never surrender." Anwar, who needs to win the support of 30 government lawmakers to take control of the 222-seat parliament, said that although he had strong support, he had been blocked from challenging the administration.