Released from prison barely a week ago, Anwar Ibrahim is already carefully elbowing his way back into Malaysian politics -- and being spoken of as a potential future prime minister. \nEven as he languished behind bars for six years following a failed power challenge, Anwar remained the most charismatic politician of his generation and was never truly written off in scenarios about the country's future. \nBut he returned faster than many expected when Malaysia's highest court freed him on Sept. 2 after overturning his conviction for sodomy six years after then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sacked him as deputy leader. \nThe court is scheduled to rule Sept. 15 whether to overturn a separate conviction for corruption. If successful, Anwar would have a clean record and would skirt the law requiring convicted felons to wait five-years before running for office or holding party posts. \nAnwar's choice then would be delicate. One option would be to lead a disparate opposition that includes the small National Justice Party headed by his wife, Azizah Ismail, and Islamic fundamentalists with whom he enjoys close links from his days as a student firebrand. \nOr he could to maneuver back into the ruling United National Malays Organization (UMNO), the road to power in this country, where he was deputy leader before Mahathir ousted him. \n"Many Malays see Anwar as prime minister material, and that includes those in UMNO," said political analyst Lutfi Omar. "And everyone accepts that you have to be in UMNO to have a shot at being prime minister." \nAnwar has kept both doors open in calibrated remarks since his release, insisting that he will keep pushing for democratic reforms -- reformasi, his rallying cry -- in the opposition while reaching out to supportive members of UMNO. \nFor now, Anwar, 57, is expected to remain in Germany for several weeks undergoing physical therapy following back surgery, then make a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, before returning to Malaysia for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. \nAnwar's back was injured during a police beating after his arrest in 1998 for leading mass protests calling for Mahathir's ouster. \nThe corruption and sodomy convictions came later, and Anwar contended that he was a victim of a judicial conspiracy orchestrated by Mahathir to keep him down. \nPrime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who came to power 10 months ago after Mahathir retired, is considered a moderate figure and is believed to have given the courts more leeway to decide Anwar's fate. \nAbdullah is also a highly skilled political infighter. Having led UMNO to a general election landslide in March, he'll preside over a party congress later this month to cement his control over the party. \nAnwar probably poses little threat to Abdullah, but his presence could make the party's current deputy and potential future prime minister, Najib Razak, and others climbing the party ranks uneasy. \n"I don't think Anwar is going to bite the hand which basically gave him his freedom," a close confidant of Anwar's said on condition of anonymity. "Malays would consider this akin to treason." \nBut Anwar is re-emerging into a changed Malaysia. Though he still pulls in crowds -- the thousands of supporters who brought Kuala Lumpur's airport to a halt to see him off to Germany raised eyebrows among security officials -- he will need to find a message that resonates. \nMalaysia has an economy headed for 6.5 percent growth this year, a far cry from the Asian financial crisis in the months when policy disputes with Mahathir triggered their falling out. \nAnalysts believe Anwar will be walking a tightrope. A shift back to UMNO too soon risks worsening his image as an opportunist. But too long in the opposition would allow UMNO rivals to consolidate their positions. \nA ruling party official who declined to be identified said that Anwar needed to play both cards to win: to succeed in the opposition to the point that he becomes an electoral threat, thus forcing UMNO to invite him back in, along with his supporters and their votes. \n"If he has support, UMNO will find it too dangerous to leave him in the opposition," the official said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big