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Anwar claims challenging for Kajang state seat will help Pakatan Rakyat in next GE

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has maintained that his entry into Selangor state politics will boost the opposition's chances to seize power in the next federal election.

KAJANG, Selangor: Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has maintained that his entry into Selangor state politics will boost the opposition's chances to seize power in the next federal election.

Speaking in the state constituency of Kajang, Anwar told voters that Selangor, which is the country's richest state, is under seige by the ruling BN coalition and must be defended at all costs.

Widely referred to as the Kajang move, the forced by-election is by far the most controversial political manouevre by Anwar Ibrahim since he took over as de-facto chief of the opposition -- it comes at a time when racial and religious tensions are on the rise in the predominantly muslim country and the people are grappling with soaring prices and the rising cost of living.

Not surprisingly, the opposition took pains to explain its decision to go to the people again barely nine months after a bruising general election in May 2013.

Anwar said: "It is our plan to use Selangor as an economic gateway to reach Putrajaya. We can not underestimate (the government's) resolve to prevent this from happening."

The UMNO-led Barisan Nasional government is out to wrest control of the opposition's crown jewel Selangor, claimed Anwar.

Even the state's chief minister, who is usually very prudent with state spending, said that no expense will be spared in this by-election.

Selangor's Menteri Besar, Khalid Ibrahim, said: "People said I am very calculative when it comes to money. But for Datuk Seri Anwar, it's different because the people want him. We must work hard for the people."

66-year-old Anwar claimed that he is the best candidate for the people in Kajang, although he was not born in the state.

He said: "I am from Penang. I spent seven years in Kuala Kangsar Malay College... However, I spent the longest time in Selangor."

While he heaped praises on Selangor's Menteri Besar for running a clean government, it was impossible to hide the long-standing rift between Mr Khalid and the ambitious Azmin Ali, deputy president of the PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat).

Party leaders are hopeful that Anwar's presence in the state government will solve the in-fighting once and for all.

Lee Chin Cheh, the former Kajang assemblyman, said: "We need a great leader in the state. The person of that stature is Datuk Seri (Anwar). I dont want to comment on the so-called internal bickering. I think it can be resolved but more importantly, if Datuk Seri Anwar comes here, this is a great platform for him to prove his worth."

It is a political gamble for Anwar and his Pakatan Rakyat allies -- even if he were to win the by-election and eventually takes over as chief minister of Selangor.

Although he was acquitted in the second sodomy trial, the court of appeal may overturn his acquittal and put him back in jail, disqualifying him from holding political office and possibly sending the opposition coalition into disarray. 

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