Friday September 29th, 2000
Supporters of Malaysia's jailed Anwar Ibrahim
said they plan to hold anti-government rallies at the same time as the Malaysian
Grand Prix next month, but said they would not disrupt the race.
"We expect some attention given to the rallies given the influx of the foreign
media representatives covering the race," Raja Petra Kamarudin, director of the
FreeAnwar Campaign, told Reuters.
"We are not going to stop the race or picket at the race track," he said.
Some news reports had suggested the supporters planned to disrupt the event.
Anwar, a one-time protege of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, is serving two
jail sentences for sodomy and corruption.
His sacking, arrest and imprisonment have sparked unprecedented protests
demanding an end to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's 19-year rule. Anwar says
he is the victim of a conspiracy orchestrated by Mahathir, who denies the
accusation. Mahathir says Anwar sought to topple his government.
The Malaysian Grand Prix, which closes the Formula One season, will be held on
October 20-22 at Sepang, on the outskirts of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
At its inaugural run last year, the race drew an estimated television audience
of 600 million and earned Malaysia more than 500 million ringgit ($131.6
million) in revenues.
Raja Petra said rallies demanding freedom for Anwar would be held in 11 towns
across the nation starting on October 11. They would end with a "grand finale"
in Kuala Lumpur on October 29 where thousands are expected to attend.
Anwar's two jail sentences are due to run until 2014.
Earlier this month, about 800 supporters of Anwar held a noisy protest in
central Kuala Lumpur to mark the two year anniversary of his custody following
his arrest in 1998.