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Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 16:45 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Anwar's wife launches reform group

Wan Azizah and daughter arrive at Anwar's trial

The wife of sacked Malaysian deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has launched a new organisation to press for political, economic and social reform.

Malaysia Crisis Section
Mr Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, said the group - the Movement for Social Justice, or Adil - was launched in response to the Malaysian people's demand for justice.

She said it would seek change through "peaceful, democratic means" - using the internet, as well as public seminars and peaceful assemblies, to enhance awareness of social reforms and basic human rights.

Wan Azizah: Dedicated to change through peaceful and democratic means
She insisted that it was not a political party and would not compete in elections. Instead the group would work with two opposition coalitions formed shortly after her husband's arrest.

She said the group, of which she is president, would seek to register with the government as required under Malaysia's Societies Act.

Uniting movement

[ image: Malaysia's reform movement has been without a leader]
Malaysia's reform movement has been without a leader
"It will serve as a bond to unite all justice-loving Malaysians against the arrogance and oppression of the powerful," she said.

The move is the first step towards establishing a formal role for the spontaneous movement known as "reformasi" that sprang up around Mr Anwar after his dismissal in September. the former deputy prime minister is currently facing charges of corruption and sexual misconduct in a trial that has gripped Malaysia.

After his dismissal, opposition parties and non-governmental organisations formed two groups calling for political and social change - the Malaysian People's Justice Movement (Gerak) and the People's Coalition for Democracy (Gagasan) - but they have not allied themselves directly with Mr Anwar.

'Yearning for change'

[ image: Anwar led a series of reform rallies before his arrest]
Anwar led a series of reform rallies before his arrest
The movement's vice-president, Chadra Muzzaffar, Professor of Politics at the University of Malaya, said it would bridge the divide between the groups and co-operate with them.

Wan Azizah said: "Adil should be a vehicle for unifying each and every group that yearn for political, economic and social change and reform in line with the principles of the constitution and the laws of the land.

Chandra Muzzaffar: A new phenomenon in Malaysian society
"Adil has been established as a reform movement. How this reform movement will evolve in the future depends a great deal upon the people."

Wan Azizah acknowledged that it was not a coincidence the group was launched on International Human Rights Day - Adil is a Malay word meaning fair, just or equitable.

Before it can hold meetings, Adil will have to be registered with the Home Ministry which is headed by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

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