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Saturday, Sept 12
Thousands hear Anwar step up anti-Mahathir attacks
by Eileen Ng

BUKIT MERTAJAM, Malaysia, Sept 12 (AFP) - Ousted deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim stepped up his attacks against Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday as he arrived in his home town in northern Malaysia.

Venturing out of the capital for the first time since his dismissal 10 days earlier, Anwar arrived here Saturday afternoon and was mobbed by supporters before addressing a crowd of about 10,000.

In a reference to Mahathir, the former finance minister said: ''You have power, you monopolise everything. You give things to your children and you make the people poor.

''What is he scared of? How can he be a leader if he is such a coward,'' Anwar said, adding that he had been treated like ''worthless rubbish'' since his dismissal.

''The world is big enough for everyone's needs but not enough for everyone's greed.''

Except for brief visits to mosques for Friday prayers, Anwar has been holed up in his Kuala Lumpur home since September 3, a day after Mahathir dismissed him as deputy premier and finance minister.

Since then, he has been holding nightly speeches to thousands of supporters, calling for political reforms and denouncing Mahathir's government for corruption, cronyism and nepotism.

Although he has yet to be charged, Anwar faces various allegations including sexual impropriety, bribery, jeopardising national security, abuse of power and sedition.

Anwar says the allegations are part of a high-level conspiracy.

Mahathir has failed to explain why he dismissed his former protege, merely saying that he was ''unsuitable'' to hold office and that his decision to fire Anwar was based on ''moral'' grounds.

''Those who say this should first look at their own reflection in the mirror,'' Anwar said in his speech here in the northern state of Penang.

''The more he criticises me, the more people people come to listen to me.''

Anwar added the country's Chinese-language newspapers were ''more liberal" than the Malay-language press. Two pro-Anwar Malay-language editors were recently forced to resign.

''The leaders are afraid the Malays will wake up to the truth,'' he said. ''Let them use all the instruments of government, let them use all their threats, but they will not deceive the people.''

Anwar, who had twice postponed plans to visit his old stamping ground, was accompanied by a convoy of dozens of vehicles as he left his suburban home in Kuala Lumpur shortly after midday Saturday.

Tens of thousands of supporters turned up to see Anwar speak near a university campus on Friday night. But the gathering was cancelled at the last minute with organisers saying they did not have a police permit.

In an address at a downtown mosque earlier on Friday, a defiant Anwar vowed to keep fighting the police allegations against him.

''Even if they want to use the courts against me, even if they want to use the police against me, I will never surrender. I will continue to fight,'' he said.

Malaysia's ruling party has ordered the country's mosques and universities to ignore Anwar, who was removed from his cabinet posts on September 2 and kicked out of the party a day later.