Anwar remains Opposition Leader until disqualified as MP, says Lim

GEORGE TOWN - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will remain the Opposition Leader until he is officially disqualified as Permatang Pauh MP, said Lim Guan Eng.

The DAP secretary-general said even if Anwar did not file a petition for a pardon, he could still retain the post for 14 days from the date of his conviction until Feb 23.

"I discussed this with Anwar on Tuesday before he went to prison but I will not divulge what was discussed.

"If we look at Article 48 Clause 4(a) of the Federal Constitution, the disqualification of a MP shall take effect upon the expiry of 14 days from the date he was convicted and sentenced.

"Anwar will remain the Permatang Pauh MP if he seeks a pardon from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who will then suspend the disqualification until the petition is disposed as stated in Clause 4(c) of the same Article.

"But then again, it depends on whether Anwar wants to seek a pardon or not," he said in a press conference yesterday.

The Penang Chief Minister said when he was convicted and sentenced to 18 months' jail under the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act in 1998, he remained Kota Melaka MP for almost a year until the Malacca Pardons Board rejected his petition.

Lim also rubbished speculation that DAP was aiming for the Opposition Leader post.

On the Permatang Pauh by-election, Lim said it should only be discussed after the Speaker had issued a writ that the seat was vacant.

"As far as we are concerned, Anwar is still the Pakatan Rakyat leader even though he's in prison.

"We've never discussed who was going to take over. A Pakatan Rakyat top leadership council meeting will be held on Friday (tomorrow) to discuss the matter," Lim said.

In Subang Jaya, Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali said Anwar would continue to be the state economic adviser despite being in prison.

"His position (as economic adviser) remains," he told reporters yesterday.

Asked how Anwar could serve as adviser while behind bars, Azmin said: "Why not? He can convey his messages through lawyers or family. We certainly need his advice."

Azmin was coy when asked about the position of Opposition Leader which is to be discussed in tomorrow's meeting.

"It is not a question of whether I want it (the post) or not. It is a matter that Pakatan leaders need to discuss and come up with a consensus decision.

"Let us wait for the meeting to take place first," he said.

When it was suggested that he was seen as the best candidate for the job, he said: "Pakatan has a pool of able and competent leaders."