SHAH ALAM, March 18 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today said PKR is the real champion of the Malays and the economically vulnerable, as he accused political rivals of hypocrisy by pretending to uphold Bumiputera interests when they were known to have squandered public wealth when in power.
Anwar, who is also PKR president, took aim at the Opposition parties and ostensibly his one-time-mentor-turned-nemesis, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in a fiery speech at the PKR congress here that aimed to rally the party ahead of a crucial election in six states.
“When people ask why we are with Umno, I tell them after four months in power, we have never compromised on matters of law, corruption and alleviating the lives of the people,” Anwar told delegates.
He said that PKR’s foes will continue to use race and religion to incite voters against his administration.
“But what is happening now? When we want to fight hardcore poverty, IPR and Menu Rahmah to help over 130,000 impoverished people and other measures... we speak of (protecting the Malays and Islam) but they are still being attacked and by using religion.”
Anwar’s coalition government has been the subject of escalating attacks by leaders from the Perikatan Nasional (PN) bloc, which continues to harp on racial and religiously-tinged allegations that the Pakatan Harapan-led government promotes liberalism and wants to undermine Muslim rule.
Pundits have rated PN’s chances for the upcoming state elections highly, after a strong showing at the 15th general election last year when they garnered the second largest share of seats as a single bloc.
These attacks have put the prime minister in a defensive spot, a sign that he may be concerned about them.
Today, the PKR president said the party has never compromised on its idealism and struggle for social equitability, which it has used to guide many of the “unity government” policies four months since taking office.
“We say we want justice, and this justice means equitability must be for all. We say we want to uphold the Constitution — to protect the Bumiputera, that Islam is the religion of the federation, Bahasa Malaysia and the sovereignty of the Malay Rulers.
“But we also must protect the rights of all citizens because when we talk about upholding universal rights we cannot be selective,” he said.
PKR and its allies in PH will seek to defend Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan from the so-called “green wave” in local elections that is rumoured to be scheduled for June or July, but this time facing a real possibility that its rivals could make a dent in those states.
The Anwar government so far enjoys a 68 per cent approval rating, according to a recent survey from independent pollster Merdeka Center poll; but whether or not the 10th prime minister can sustain it could very much depend on his ability to visibly remedy issues like living cost pressure and allay Bumiputera grievances.
At today’s PKR congress, Anwar said his government has rolled out pro-people policies while his predecessors have been mired in corruption scandals.
"I told Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar to give our paddy farmers RM60 million, and later I said to him also give 30 per cent of Bernas' revenue to the farmers," he said, referring to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary whose net worth has been valued by Forbes at US$1.6 billion this year.
"This is what we choose to do. What did they choose to do? You siphon money into your party account so they can splurge it on their families. Is this helping the Bumiputera? " Anwar added, likely a reference to PN chairman and eighth prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
"I believe we should carry this narrative...and we will use this principle to fight and God willing, we will win."
Muhyiddin has been charged with seven counts of corruption and money laundering charges, for which he is claiming innocence. The trial proper has yet to start.
Anwar is scheduled to wrap up the debates of his policy speech later this evening.