Keadilan denies knowledge of Anwar backers

Youth chief claims the US lobby group was hired by friends of Anwar abroad. It will decide whether to endorse them when it knows their identity



THE Washington-based lobby group engaged to put pressure on Dr Mahathir Mohamad's administration was hired by ""friends of Anwar Ibrahim'' abroad, claimed Parti Keadilan Nasional Youth chief Ezam Mohd Noor.

""We do not know who these people are. But we have many friends and supporters overseas. We will have to find out who they really are,'' he said.

Once the people involved are identified, he said, the party will decide whether to endorse the support given by these sympathisers.

The opposition politician was explaining his stand on the issue highlighted by The Straits Times on Thursday about Anwar's sympathisers in the US who had hired Janus Merritt Strategy (JMS) to lobby on behalf of the former deputy prime minister.

""We will study the matter and Keadilan will make a decision later. At the moment, we have received no report on the lobby group,'' he said.

Mr Ezam also put it on record that The Straits Times' report on the matter was accurate.

""The Straits Times had made it clear that the hiring of the US-style public-affairs firm was not done by Keadilan.

""Keadilan has never engaged any lobby organisation in our campaign to free Anwar. I have never met any lobby organisation while I was overseas recently, the Youth leader said.

Explaining his trip to the US recently, Mr Ezam said he was there to meet Americans, including Muslim leaders and Malaysians residing there to explain the situation in Malaysia.

""If these people are supporting us, let me say that we do not pay them for their services.''

His overseas trips were part of Keadilan's international campaign to highlight alleged injustices of the Mahathir administration, including accusations of violations of human-rights and democracy.

Dr Mahathir had responded that Keadilan wanted Malaysians to suffer just because Anwar was facing problems.

""Because of that, they want to destroy the economy,'' the Prime Minister said.

However, Mr Ezam explained that he never lobbied for trade sanctions against Malaysia, stating that it would be a wrong to pressure the government in this way.

""Our duty is to give facts. It is up to the investors to decide. We are not trying to ruin the Malaysian economy.

""But we believe the investors' decision will pressure the Malaysian government to adjust the system. We want to save our economy,'' he said.

The Keadilan Nasional Youth Chief also took to task the local media for claiming he had betrayed the country for spreading anti-government propaganda overseas.

""Opposition leaders have acted like me in exposing how Mahathir's policies and the actions of Barisan Nasional have trampled on human-rights, shackled the judiciary, promoted corruption and allowed the leadership of BN and their cronies to help themselves to the country's riches.

""Most of what I have said has already been known by the international community through media reports, resulting in the loss of investors' confidence in the government,'' he said.

While overseas, Mr Ezam said he took the opportunity to explain the political and economic policies of Barisan Alternatif (BA).