PETALING JAYA (Feb 26): The standoff in Lahad Datu is a classic example of a vulnerable regime trying to retain its power, claims Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Anwar said the creation of an outside threat was a manner in which authoritarian regimes used to scare their people into believing that the regime was important to preserve security.
"This is classic state craft of an authoritarian or semi-authoritarian government...it is used to scare (the people).
"(This technique was also carried out by) former US President George Bush to direct attention to an imaginary problem," he said in reference to Bush's highly criticised "War on Terror".
Anwar added that it was like a "Wag the Dog" situation where the ruling coalition was trying to distract the public from other important pending issues.
The PKR de-factor leader claimed that the government had been "exceedingly soft" with the "militant" intruders and this approach was only causing further concern among the local people there.
"The standoff has been (going on) for far too long. The government and the security (forces) have been exceedingly soft in dealing with militant groups,
"I was on the phone with some locals and also community business leaders there who expressed lots of concern if the government (continues to) take so long, with no tough stance to resolve the issue," he said.
On Feb 12, more than 100 people in army camouflage landed on the shores of Lahad Datu in speedboats claiming that Sabah belongs to the Sulu Sultanate.
They claim to be from the Sulu Sultanate Army representing Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and were reclaiming territory which was rightfully and historically theirs.
Two weeks have passed but Malaysian security is still embroiled with the armed group.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino warned the Sulu sultan today he would face the "full force of the law" if he did not end the stand-off in Sabah.
On another matter, Anwar announced that Pakatan will host an International Conference on the upcoming elections on March 4 and 5.
The main purpose of the conference is to "galvanise support for free and fair elections and democratic reforms".
Participants invited include Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz, Hulu Selangor MP Datuk P Kamalanathan, and representatives from the Election Commission.
The conference to be held in Parliament will be officiated by Senate Speaker Tan Sri Abu Zahar Nika Ujang.
Anwar said that the fact that the Pakatan sponsored event was allowed to be held in Parliament was a sign that local politics was "maturing". There are also some international panellists who have been invited but whose attendance have yet to be confirmed, he said.
The international panellists, who have experience in conducting and observing elections, include Justin Marlon Reis (Brazil), Associate Prof Gthom Arya (Thailand), and others from India, Indonesia, Phillipines and Australia.
Anwar added that even if Parliament was dissolved by the end of this week, the forum will still continue as its purpose was to discuss how to make the upcoming polls clean and fair.