By VIJAY JOSHI
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Police are investigating Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s wife and three others for taking part in a rally where the politician claimed he was close to toppling the government, a party official said today.
Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is the president of his People’s Justice Party, and three other party members were served early Tuesday with notices to report to police for investigation of illegal assembly, said Tian Chua, a senior party official.
He said the notices stemmed from a Monday night rally. Tens of thousands of supporters gathered at a sports field to hear Anwar give his first public speech since last month’s elections and to celebrate the end of a ban on him holding political office.
Police abruptly halted the rally midway through Anwar’s speech, triggering loud jeers from the crowd. Police said the rally was illegal because Anwar’s party did not have a permit, which is needed for gatherings of more than four people.
Chua said the party members did not plan to report to police Tuesday as the notices demanded, and that they would “find another appropriate date.”
“Today is not an appropriate time. We have other work,” he told The Associated Press.
Police declined to comment on the investigation.
Anwar told reporters after Monday’s rally that at least 30 lawmakers from the ruling National Front coalition had agreed to defect to his side, enough to topple the government.
But he said he was in no hurry to bring down the government because he would need more than a wafer-thin majority in Parliament to carry out the wide-ranging reforms he planned for the country, including cleaning up the judiciary, ending corruption and ensuring racial harmony.
“Now I can say for the first time that we are ready to govern the country,” Anwar said. “We have the numbers … but we are not in a hurry.”
“We will only enter when the majority is comfortable,” he said without indicating when that would happen.
The former deputy prime minister spearheaded a three-party opposition coalition known as the People’s Alliance to spectacular gains in elections last month, winning an unprecedented 82 of Parliament’s 222 seats. The alliance also won control of legislatures in five of Malaysia’s 13 states.
The election results reignited the Anwar’s political career. Political pundits have said Anwar’s ambition is to become prime minister, a post that once seemed within his reach when he was deputy to former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the 1990s.
However, Mahathir sacked him in 1998 in a power struggle. Anwar was expelled from the ruling party and convicted of sodomy and corruption — charges he said were politically motivated.
He was released from prison in 2004 after the sodomy conviction was overturned, but the corruption conviction barred him from holding political office until April 15, 2008.
Anwar could not contest the general elections because of the ban. But he was expected to contest a by-election to gain entry to Parliament, allowing him to challenge Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who is under pressure from factions within his own party to quit.
Abdullah has said he will eventually hand over power to his deputy Najib Razak, but not immediately.
Associated Press writers Julia Zappei and Sean Yoong contributed to this report