By Leven Woon
The opposition leader wants to engage the ruling Barisan Nasional to iron out national issues.
PETALING JAYA: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim extended an olive branch to the ruling Barisan Nasional on Merdeka eve, asking for an open engagement between the two rival political coalitions to trash out national issues.
Speaking at a press conference at the PKR headquarters, Anwar said Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition pact made up of PAS, DAP and PKR, was willing to talk to BN despite its strong protest on the validity of the 13th general elections in May, this year.
“We are prepared to put aside our difference for the sake of the nation’s well-being and future.
“In this regard, we believe that it is imperative for the prime minister to convene without the slightest delay a round-table meeting between the BN government and Pakatan Rakyat to deliberate issues and formulate a comprehensive solution,” said the Permatang Pauh MP.
He, however, stressed that he was not proposing a unity government.
Anwar said at a time when the country is celebrating 56 years of Independence, it is witnessing greater polarisation of the communities and increasing divisiveness on religious matter.
“The tragedy in this is that not only is there a lack of leadership in ameliorating the situation but it appears that the government is allowing this phenomenon to worsen.
“Inspite of protests from concerned citizens and NGOs, the government has sanctioned the nationwide screening of a movie that will only serve to incite animosity even as its artistic value remains questionable,” he said.
He was making an obvious reference to Tanda Putera, a film which depicts the 1969 race riots toeing the government’s account of events. It features a scene of a Chinese man urinating at the Selangor MB’s residence.
String of issues pending
The PKR de facto leader also noted the sharp increase in shooting cases and violent crimes and the need to compel the police to follow due process.
He also said the government is guilty of economic dishonesty – telling half-truths and giving incomplete statistics to “camouflage the excessive spending that the country can no longer afford”.
He cited the examples of global rating agency Fitch’s downgrading the economic prospects of Malaysia, and Malaysian Institute of Economic Research and Bank Negara cutting 2013’s growth projections respectively.
“We rely heavily on low value and commodity exports to the global market, a continuing drag in the global economy casts uncertainties over our growth,” he said.
The former deputy prime minister later said he hoped the roundtable meeting would be held in an open and conducive manner.
“Whether you like it or not, Malaysians have said they want change. So we must be heard, we must be given a fair exchange,” he said, referring to the 51% popular votes bagged by Pakatan compared to the 47% by BN.
He also said such talk is common practice in a democratic country, and it has got nothing to do with forming a unity government. – FMT