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Wednesday, Sept 16
Massive police crackdown feared as more Anwar associates arrested

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 (AFP) - Malaysian police moves to arrest acquaintances of ousted deputy premier Anwar Inbahim are part of a government campaign of fear and an ''omen'' of more to come, a human rights group warned Wednesday.

Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang warned separately of mass detentions under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) following the arrests of more associates of Anwar.

''The arrests, in light of the current tense political situation in Malaysia, (are) not only an opportunistic attempt by the government to create fear but they are also politically motivated,'' the rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) said.

Suaram noted that unlike the earlier arrests of Anwar's adopted brother and a private secretary, the latest arrest of a Pakistani publisher was under the ISA.

''The recent endeavours by the police and the use of the ISA is an omen that more widespread arrests will follow,'' a statement said.

''Suaram fears that more people will be arrested under the ISA -- an act which conveniently allows for detention without trial,'' it added, noting that the act also legitimised ''gross violations of human rights.''

Anwar himself said Wednesday he expected to be detained after the Commonwealth Games, accusing Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of trying to ''harass'' him by arresting his friends, staff and family members.

Asked if he expected to be picked up, Anwar told the BBC: ''The idea is to wait until the Queen of England leaves Kuala Lumpur at the end of the games.''

Queen Elizabeth II is due to take part in the closing ceremonies for the Commonwealth Games in the Malaysian capital on Monday.

Anwar says the allegations against him -- ranging from sexual impropriety, bribery and jeopardising national security to interfering with police investigations, abuse of power and sedition -- are part of a high-level conspiracy.

''These are very serious allegations indeed and they could not have happened without the approval of the highest authorities in the land.

''That could only prove my earlier assertion that there is a high-level political conspiracy against me and that the allegations are a series of fabrications,'' he told the BBC.

Anwar said his supporters had been contacted by prostitutes who said they had been threatened with detention if they did not give evidence against him.

Police may press charges against Anwar for holding public gatherings without permission, newspapers reported Wednesday.

Police Inspector-General Rahim Noor was quoted as saying that Anwar's gatherings since his dismissal two weeks earlier had contravened the law.

''Being a former cabinet minister, he should know better than to set a bad example. We will take legal action against him if he flouts the law,'' he said.

Rahim also told reporters to ''be patient'' when they asked if Anwar would be arrested in connection with various allegations against him.

He confirmed the detention under the ISA of the Pakistani acquaintance of Anwar, identified as Munawar Anees, the editor of a defunct English-language quarterly covering Islamic affairs.

Rahim also said that Anwar's former private secretary Ahmad Mohamad had been remanded in custody. He said police would also seek a court order on Wednesday or Thursday for another private secretary Mohamed Azmin Ali, who ''refused to come after being called up by police'' as part of their investigations.

''This amounts to an offence,'' he said.

Opposition leader Lim, who heads the Democratic Action Party, said a top prison official had recently identified two prisons as possible alternatives to a camp for those arrested under the Internal Security Act.

''Is this an indication that the authorities are preparing for a mass arrest under the Internal Security Act?'' he asked. Lim also expressed shock that Anwar had yet to be charged.

''It is most shocking that 14 days after the unprecedented sacking of Anwar as deputy prime minister and finance minister, the police (have) not completed investigations into the various charges made against Anwar,'' he said.

''Nor has the attorney general made any decision that there is prima facie evidence to charge Anwar for any crime,'' he added.

Lim said Anwar was expected to visit later Wednesday a protest by supporters of his son Guan Eng, a member of parliament recently jailed for sedition over an article he wrote.