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Monday, Sept 14
Police moving in on ousted minister's speeches
By JOCELYN GECKER (Associated Press)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Banished deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim said Monday the police were zooming in on him, calling on him to halt his nightly backyard rallies and denying him permission to speak in public.

''They are polite but becoming less tolerant,'' Anwar told reporters Monday, following a nearly stymied rally Sunday night in Malacca, where police revoked his permit to speak and cut all the lights in the area.

Unfazed, Anwar climbed on his Honda mini van and addressed some 20,000 people through a megaphone.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sacked Anwar as his deputy and finance minister Sept. 2 on sexual misconduct allegations, saying he was immoral and unfit to lead.

Anwar has denied the charges and blames his ouster on a high-level political plot to stem his growing popularity and challenge to Mahathir's 17-year leadership. He is under police investigation on eight criminal charges and police have said he could face arrest.

Anwar said Monday his nationwide political reformation tour was on hold, pending police approval.

In Malaysia, public gatherings require a police permit.

''We are still struggling with the permits and permission, and people being threatened,'' Anwar said.

Police paid Anwar a house call Monday morning, Anwar said, ''to express their concern that the numbers are getting too big.''

In nightly rallies at his home attracting some 6,000 supporters, people spill out from his backyard, chanting ''Long Live Anwar!'' and ''Reformasi!''

Anwar said Police asked him Monday if he would turn off his outdoor speaker system and consider a halt to the nightly speeches.

''I said, 'No, I cannot. I'm prepared to reduce the functions at home on condition that you give me a permit to have it outside,''' he said he told the police.

But as the reformation movement gets noisier, with some crowds chanting, ''Down with Mahathir!'' police approval is unlikely.

Mahathir said over the weekend that no action would be taken against Anwar as long as his rallies did not disrupt public order.

Anwar said Monday that if he was arrested his movement would continue to be run by his wife, Azizah Ismail, an ophthalmologist.

He denied rumors that he was preparing to join an opposition political party or create his own.

''No, not yet,'' he said. ''What's happening is more than any party could hope for. That's why I think some people up there are quite worried and scared.''

On Saturday, Anwar addressed a crowd of more than 30,000 people near Mahathir's hometown of Jitra, in northern Malaysia. It was the largest turnout yet.

At a rally of some 5,000 people earlier Saturday in his rural hometown, Cherok Tok Kun, in the northwestern state of Penang, he spelled out his political reform campaign.

He called for greater democracy in the government and judiciary, fair distribution of wealth, more transparency and an end to corruption in the government.