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Friday, September 4, 1998 Published at 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Malaysian PM 'paranoid'

Anwar Ibrahim says the allegations against him are baseless

Malaysia's sacked finance minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has stepped up his attacks on the prime minister, Mahathir Mohamed, accusing him of paranoia and resisting urgently-needed political reform.

Anwar Ibrahim: "I have been asked to resign or chose to be expelled"
Mr Anwar, who was also deputy prime minister, told the BBC that Malaysia's veteran leader was constantly fearful that capable individuals around him were plotting his overthrow.

And he again rejected as frivolous the accusations of sexual impropriety which the prime minister has cited as justification for his sacking.

Mr Anwar's comments came shortly after his expulsion by the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

Local newspapers on Friday published police affidavits citing among others a man who claimed he had been sodomised by the former deputy prime minister 15 times and a businessman who said Mr Anwar had tried to seduce his wife.

Arrest may be imminent

Suggestions that Mr Anwar could be prosecuted under the Internal Security Act have been strengthened by an allegation in the same report that Mr Anwar had contacts with subversive elements outside the country in a manner which threatened national security.

Anwar: "Where's the evidence ?"
Mr Anwar said he expected to be arrested and to face criminal charges.

"Of course I will be arrested, it's just a matter of time," he told Associated Press.

He vowed to fight to clear his name and press forward the cause of political reform in Malaysia.

He said people were fed up with the amount of corruption and cronyism in the country and suggested that his efforts to warn Dr Mahathir of the growing clamour for change were the real reason for his dismissal.

Mr Anwar and the Malaysian prime minister have had a long-standing dispute over economic policy.

His sacking came the day after Malaysia announced plans to impose controls on foreign exchange transactions in an attempt to save the currency from further devaluation.

Mahathir 'saddened' by events

Malaysia's currency, the ringgit, and the markets have plummeted since the Asian economic crisis broke out in July 1997.

Dr Mahathir has said he will serve as acting finance minister for now and wait until next year's Umno party elections before appointing a new deputy.

In his first public comments on the sacking, he said he was "saddened" by events.

"I wish it hadn't happened, not at this point," he said. "But these things have gone out of my control."

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