From : ABC.Net
TONY EASTLEY: In Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the largest opposition party, is so worried about corruption in the next general election, he’s passed a handwritten note to Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr asking for help.
He says Australia regularly calls for countries to conduct free and fair elections and that should apply to Malaysia and its ruling party, UMNO.
It comes at a delicate time for Australia as it seeks Malaysia’s help to process asylum seeker arrivals.
A Malaysian election is due to be held sometime next year but there’s widespread speculation the government will go early.
Sixty five-year-old Mr Anwar says he’s uncovered evidence and produced it in parliament which reveals fake voter registrations and a host of other anomalies.
I spoke by telephone to Mr Anwar in Kuala Lumpur last night.
Anwar Ibrahim, welcome to AM. You have fears that the election will be fraudulent and that it won’t reflect the will of the Malaysian people. What evidence do you have to back this?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: We have produced and submitted specific evidence based on the electoral role prepared by the election commission where we showed a few hundred thousand people who are ineligible to vote, not allowed to vote, or some who are not eligible, who are 12 years old or two years old, in the electoral list.
Yesterday the election commission in a private discussion with the members of parliament admitted they were at fault.
TONY EASTLEY: These voter inconsistencies you mention – false names, underage voters and ghost voters – who is behind this alleged rigging?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Well election commission is supposed to be independent. But right now of course they, in their statement, in their public announcement, seem to represent the ruling UMNO party.
But one of the other major demands – there’s not one minute access to the mainstream media. So how can election commission consider this fair elections when the opposition has been denied even one minute of air time?
TONY EASTLEY: Why do you think the election commission is operating and doing what it is?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Well they are political appointees and they are, many of them we have actually produced evidence they’re even card carrying members of the ruling party, which runs contrary to the requirements of the law of the commission.
TONY EASTLEY: What can Australia do to ensure a free and fair election?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Well in my note to Minister Bob Carr and my discussions earlier with Kevin Rudd I said look, you talk about free elections in Afghanistan and Iraq – why are we rather muted when it comes to free, fair elections in Malaysia?
I’m not asking you to intervene beyond that. Why are you now talking about the need for free elections in Burma and not saying anything about neighbouring countries?
TONY EASTLEY: Why do you think that is?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: (Laughs) I’m not probing the immigration or (inaudible) subject. But…
TONY EASTLEY: You are no doubt aware that Australia is or has been negotiating with Malaysia over a regional asylum seeker policy. Relations are at a tense or critical point aren’t they?
ANWAR IBRAHIM: Yeah, yeah. And my explanation in my full conversations with Minister Bob Carr I say look, why do we raise? Because the only explanation given by the minister of home affairs in this country is we are in the midst of finalising an agreement. And nothing – no detail, information or agreement has been given to Malaysians. I mean, so I say we have every reason to question this regimen.
TONY EASTLEY: Malaysia’s de facto opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim.