Sunday, September 27, 1998 Published at 20:30 GMT 21:30 UK
Malaysian protesters defy rally ban
Anwar's wife said her husband would be proud
About 20,000 Malaysians have defied a ban on public gatherings to attend a rally calling for political reform following the arrest of sacked deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim.
The move follows a string of demonstrations in the capital Kuala Lumpur, some of which have been broken up by riot police using water cannon and CS gas.
Syed Husin Ali, chairman of the Malaysian People's Party, urged people to unite to bring down Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Mr Ali, one of the coalition's founders, said Dr Mahathir had come to think he was God because so much power was concentrated in his hands.
Mr Anwar was arrested hours afterwards under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows indefinite detention without trial.
After his sacking on September 2, Mr Anwar held rallies around the country calling for political reform and an end to nepotism and cronyism.
Allegations against him include sodomy and treason.
Mr Anwar's wife said the malicious destruction of her husband's character would be a black mark in the nation's history if it went unchallenged.
Dr Wan Azizah Ismail did not attend the gathering and has been warned by the police not to deliver any public talks.
"We do not seek anything other than that brother Anwar be produced in court and given a fair trial under the ordinary laws of the land," she added.
Mr Anwar is one of about a dozen people arrested under the ISA during the recent unrest.
Dr Wan Azizah was confident her husband was aware of what was happening outside the confines of his cell. She added: "He will surely be very proud.''
Organisers distributed leaflets which called for an independent judiciary, police and media and demanded the amendment of laws which encroach on freedoms.
Although authorities have banned all public meetings, police did not disrupt the rally, held at the local headquarters of the Islamic fundamentalist opposition Parti Islam Se-Malaysia.
Police barred official coalition launch
The meeting took place after the official launch of the new coalition was cancelled when police stopped the booking at the hotel where it was to be held.
Although there are no immediate plans to launch a direct challenge to the government, one of the leaders said the movement could develop into a single political force.
On Friday, Dr Mahathir said Mr Anwar would be brought to court only when the protests stopped.
Lawyers for Mr Anwar say they still do not know what charges he is likely to face.