April 1, 2009 By Adib Zalkapli
SUNGAI PETANI, April 1 – The Home Ministry’s directive banning Pakatan Rakyat leaders from mentioning Altantuya Shaariibuu at their rallies did not stop Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from bringing up the dead at the Bukit Selambau by-election campaign.
Speaking at his campaign stop here last night, the Opposition Leader told thousands of people present at a public rally that only Pakatan Rakyat leaders stood up against the authorities when Kugan Ananthan died in police custody last January.
“I want the Indians to be solidly behind us. When Kugan was beaten up, I spoke up. From Pas, Husam also spoke up. Did you hear any Umno leaders saying anything?” Anwar asked the multiracial crowd.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim being mobbed by the waiting media as he arrives at Bukit Selambau, his first stop in the triple by-election campaign. – Pix by Shannon Teoh
“When the Umno assembly was held for three days, did you hear them talking about the Indian?”
He also ridiculed MIC’s plan to make a comeback through the by-election after suffering its worst electoral performance in March last year.
“If MIC wants to help the Indians, they should tell Umno now and speak up against them,” he said.
With the by-election campaign marred by internal bickering over the selection of S. Manikumar to contest under PKR’s ticket, Anwar last night defended the party’s choice, which he claimed was made after a lengthy process.
“Yes, he is only 35, he does not have much experience but he is clean,” said Anwar.
“I told him that he will be the representative for the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians. This is not about one or two candidates, but it is matter of principle,” he added.
Anwar also reiterated his promise that the federal opposition would continue to fight for the release of the five Hindraf leaders who are currently held under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The selection of Manikumar has drawn strong opposition from the party ranks which resulted in a resignation of its Jerai division chief B. Kalaivanar and Hindraf had also said that it is boycotting the by-election and expected a large number of Indians which formed 30 per cent of the voters not to turn up on polling day.
The race for the state seat is between Manikumar, MIC’s Datuk S. Ganesan and 13 independents with polling set for April 7.