Malaysia's Anwar praises Aquino for anti-corruption drive

by Tony Velasquez, ANC

Posted at Aug 06 2011 03:44 PM | Updated as of Aug 07 2011 07:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said many of his countrymen look up to the Philippines for its efforts to resolve corruption and election fraud.

In an interview, the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia said he admires President Benigno Aquino's campaign to weed out deep-seated corruption, and his move to investigate allegations of fraud in previous elections.

"What, to my mind, is very important is that all leaders come and go. They come with this promise of anti-corruption, but many, unfortunately, are very badly tainted by ill-gotten wealth and corruption. Here comes a new president who seems to be very determined and people are waiting for clear tough execution," he said.

Ibrahim, himself, is leading a campaign for clean elections in Malaysia. And while the Philippine government is probing questionable sale of helicopters to police, Ibrahim wants the Malaysian government to explain why it bought two expensive but allegedly useless French submarines.

"I'm very supportive by the reforms here. I'm very encouraged by the changes that are taking place. But I'm also insisting that the leadership be seen acting firmly... to make sure that these reforms take place," he said.

Ibrahim is still suffering from the ill-effects of the tear gas barrage that Malaysian police unleashed during a pro-reform rally he led in his country last month.

The Malaysian opposition leader is also facing sodomy charges. He believes he's being prevented from presenting a credible defense in his ongoing trial, where he faces 20 years jail time if convicted.

"The process is fraud, but I have to endure," he lamented.

Admirer of Jose Rizal, Ninoy

Ibrahim was in Manila for a lecture on the influence of Philippine heroes Jose Rizal and former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino on ASEAN leadership. He said he gets inspiration from the two.

"I think my rule is to at least persuade Filipinos and other Asian friends to emulate the great sacrifices, the visions of these regional heroes and see what is terribly lacking," he said.

Ibrahim became a target of a derogatory remark on twitter criticizing him for being pro-Christian and an admirer of Jose Rizal.

The tweet, in Malay, was initially thought to have come from Dato Zainab, wife of the Malaysian ambassador to Manila, Dr. Ibrahim Saad. Zainab has disowned the tweet.