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Push for power change stalls because of studi -

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ELEANOR HALL: After a decade in the political wilderness and a stint in prison today was supposed
to be the day Malaysia's opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, moved against the government. He's spent
the past six months wooing defectors to join his People's Alliance.

But suddenly, more than 50 members of the ruling coalition have been sent on a study trip to
Taiwan. That means his push to overthrow the government is likely to be delayed.

But as Karen Percy reports it's unlikely to deter Mr Anwar for very long.

KAREN PERCY: Malaysia's Internal Security Act was put in place half a century ago. But modern day
politicians have found its provisions to detain people indefinitely to be most useful.

MALIK IMTIAZ SARWAR: It was enacted to deal with the communist insurgency and was stated to be only
for that purpose but since then we've seen a number of things being done with the act including the
use of the act against potential political opponents.

KAREN PERCY: Malik Imtiaz Sarwa is with the Human Rights society of Malaysia.

MALIK IMTIAZ SARWAR: Well its timing is pretty convenient bearing in mind that Anwar Ibrahim has
obviously been going on about September 16th as being the date on which she will announce the steps
being taken towards taking Federal government. The individuals involved the three detainees just
last weekend, two of them are in some way or the other involved in pro-Anwar, pro-change movement.

KAREN PERCY: During a weekend crackdown, blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin was the first to be
detained. His website Malaysia Today publishes bold and harsh criticisms of the government. Mr Raja
Petra has been detained under the ISA before in 2001 when running a website dedicated to freeing
Anwar Ibrahim.

Opposition politician, Teresa Kok from the Democratic Action Party was also arrested after
complaints by Muslim groups. She's rejected their allegations that she criticised the morning call
to prayer.

A third person detained was journalist Tan Hoon Cheng who writes for a Chinese daily paper and
recently reported on racist comments by a member of the United National Malays Organisation - the
country's biggest political party. She's the only one to be released so far.

The clampdown, supposedly on national security grounds, seems to have backfired on the government.
And a senior minister, Zaid Ibrahim, has quit, criticising the moves. He was brought in to overhaul
the country's judiciary less than six months ago.

He's not an elected member of parliament but his departure is a direct hit on the Prime Minister,
Abdullah Badawi, who's position has been shaky ever since the March general election. Human rights
lawyer, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar.

MALIK IMTIAZ SARWAR: It's a very heartening event because finally we're seeing someone in
government stand up you know on a point principal and say he cannot associate with the government

KAREN PERCY: Mr Malik says this might spur other member of the government to take a stand.

MALIK IMTIAZ SARWAR: Zaid's departure I guess signals something to be then peaceful or possibly
sitting on the fence. That it's OK to do this on principal, Zaid doesn't have anything to gain from
doing what he's done in fact he has much to loose. But he's done it.

KAREN PERCY: And so all of this could ultimately benefit Mr Anwar, rather than hurt him as the
government might have hoped.

This is Karen Percy reporting for The World Today.