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Sunday Agenda -

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Sky News

Australian Agenda

John Brumby / Kevin Rudd / Dr. Anwar Ibrahim

14th November 2010

Interviews with:

Victorian Premier, John Brumby,

Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, and

Malaysian Opposition Leader, Dr. Anwar Ibrahim

Australian Agenda program, 14th November 2010

Peter Van Onselen: We're joined now by the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, out of Sky News'
Melbourne headquarters. Mr. Brumby, thanks very much for being with us.

John Brumby: Delighted to be with you, thanks Peter, thanks Greg and thanks Paul.

Peter Van Onselen: Can I ask you right off the bat, how serious is the challenge for your
government to win re-election? How under threat are you in terms of being able to win this election
and win another four years?

John Brumby: I think I've made it very clear that we're a strong government, a good government,
we've run a strong budget, we've been the jobs engine room of Australia. I think we've got a good
health system, a good education system. There's plenty more that we want to do in the future,
plenty more that I want to do in the future. We've got some exciting policies. But I've always said
that this election will be very close and it will go to the wire. I think you're seeing that in the
published polls, although they're a little different. They're all showing that this is a close
election and a tight election, but I'm in it to win it in our own right, that's what I want and
that's what I think would be best for the people of Victoria. But Paul's introduction about the
rise of the Green political party, reality is that we saw that at a federal level, we saw that at
the last state election in Victoria 2006, so there are a lot of parties that are competing for our
vote, but our aim is to govern in our own right.

Paul Kelly: Just on that point, Mr. Brumby, what is your message to voters who are contemplating
voting for the Greens at this election? What is your message to them to try and persuade them
against doing that?

John Brumby: Paul, our message is about strong leadership for the times ahead. Our state faces big
challenges. One of those is climate change, how we deal with climate change, how we clean up our
environment, but at the same time create new jobs for the future. I think if you look at our
policies, particularly for those Green voters, in the social justice area, our Fairer Victoria
policy, our commitment to public housing, what we've done with the Elizabeth Street Common Ground
Homelessness project for example, our progressing policies in terms of diversity, the gay and
lesbian community, our commitment to the jobs of the future, innovation, broadband, biotechnology
and our policies to tackle climate change, including the most aggressive renewable target in
Australia, I think all of these things appeal to those who are perhaps more environmentally
concerned, or to the left of the Labor Party. So I'm after those votes, but I'm also after the
votes of mainstream Victorians, because I think this election is fundamentally about jobs. It's
about who'll manage the economy, who'll manage the budget, who'll keep the jobs coming and who'll
run strong investment in education and health. Our government offers that and I believe no other
alternative offers that in this election.

Greg Sheridan: Mr. Brumby, if the Liberals get from the Greens an open preference card in seats
that are key to them, and then give the Greens preferences in inner city seats where the Greens
might beat you, that makes a lot of sense for the Greens and the Liberals. Why wouldn't they do
that? And how dangerous is that to you in those inner city seats?

John Brumby: Greg, I think that remains to be seen and there are a lot of discussions, I
understand, at the moment between respective party secretaries and they're all talking about where
preferences go. But one of the points I've made in this campaign is that I think for many Liberal
voters in those inner suburban seats of Melbourne, I think the reality is many of them are probably
unaware that their preferences in the federal election elected Adam Bandt. I say that because a
decade ago in these seats it was always the Labour Party would come in first, the Liberal Party
second and the Greens or other minor parties third. But now I think it is unarguable that the
Liberal Party will come in third. So their preferences get distributed and I think many Liberal
voters are simply unaware that if they put a two in the Green box they will be electing a Green
member of parliament. So at the end of the day this will be a matter for the Liberal Party. It's
not for me to tell Liberal voters how to vote, but I think there is an information and education
role in the community to make sure that people are aware that their second preference in those
seats will determine the outcome, and that there is a very real prospect of Green members of
parliament being elected in those seats.

Paul Kelly: Just on that point, Mr. Brumby, to what extent do you think that a problem here is that
the Greens are still seen to a certain extent as a protest movement, and they are not being
properly evaluated, assessed and scrutinised as a political party in their own right, the way the
major parties are in fact scrutinised?

John Brumby: Paul, as a general comment it's important that everybody who contests public office is
properly scrutinised, but I think your point is right. We're making a big issue in this campaign
about the focus on the Liberal Party, about them failing to submit their policies to Treasury for
costing. But I would say the same in relation to the Greens political party as well. So in this
business we're all constrained by what's achievable in terms of a sustainable budget position. You
can't promise more than you've got coming in, in terms of revenue and taxes. So you need to have
those policies costed to see if you're real and fair dinkum and what you're promising is
achievable. But the scrutiny argument I think goes for my principal opponent, which is Mr. Baillieu
in the Liberal Party, but it also goes for the Greens as well.

Peter Van Onselen: Mr. Brumby, can I ask, in an interview that I did with the head of the AWU, Paul
Howse, during the week, he made the observation about a number of state Labor governments, one of
which being yours, that he felt that Labor's best term in power in Victoria was its first term.
Firstly I wanted to see if you agree with that, and secondly, even if you don't, is that a
perception difficulty for you when you're now trying to win re-election after the government has
been in power for so long?

John Brumby: I wouldn't make judgements about which term has been better. Every term that we've
been in has been, I think, a positive term for our state. We've had eleven years of consecutive
economic growth, of budget surpluses, of investment in health and education, so I would say every
year has been a good year for our state. But we did govern in the first term. It was a minority
government for much of that term. We governed with the help of rural Independents who agreed with
us on some policy issues, but principally guaranteed supply for our government. So you can have
minority governments, you can make them work. But I think for our state, obviously what I'm
offering in this election is majority government, clear government, stable government, strong
leadership for the future. That's what I offer. That's what I hope the outcome is. We haven't had
any discussions with any of the minor parties about minority government. That's not where I'm
looking. I'm hoping to win this election in our own right, but it will be very close indeed.

Paul Kelly: I understand that you're seeking majority government, Mr. Brumby, that's quite obvious.
But the question arises, if in fact Labor is reduced to a minority position, are you prepared to
govern in an alliance with the Greens?

John Brumby: Paul, I've been asked that question just about every day of this campaign, and I've
not gone into the answer because it's a hypothetical question and I've not had any discussions with
the Greens political party. I've not met their leader, I've not had those discussions and I don't
intend to have any discussions.

Peter Van Onselen: But Premier, it's becoming less and less hypothetical, isn't it? The more we see
the polls showing that this election is tightening, the closer we get to polling day, it may well
soon not be a hypothetical, and you must have thought about it for when those situations of
negotiation happen, if they do.

John Brumby: There's a variety of polls around and, as you know, in election campaigns we don't
comment on the polls. But there were a couple of polls at the weekend, they're actually somewhat
different, but they both show it'll be a close election. But you go back and look in the 2006
election, there were a few polls around then, they showed too that it would be close, and at the
end of the day Labor had a good victory. But I think this is harder this time. We're seeking a
fourth term, it will be closer. To be fair, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals about will we
or won't we? I think the best thing for our state, the best policy position, the best direction for
our state, is the re-election of our government with the big investments we're making in health,
the big investments in education and transport, the strong economy and the focus on jobs.

Greg Sheridan: You mentioned earlier the importance of scrutiny. There's a bit of a crisis in
Australian politics that state politics is not covered well on TV, state parliament is never
covered. States the size of Victoria in America always have three or more debates for a governor's
race. Why will you only have one debate with Ted Baillieu? Isn't it a sign really of some contempt
for the voters, not allowing yourself to be put to the scrutiny of three tough debates with the
opposition leader?

John Brumby: It's interesting if you go back in this actually, Greg. Back in the 1990s when I was
opposition leader, in 1996 there was no debate. That was when Jeff Kennett was Premier, so there
just wasn't one. I think I got a radio debate with Alan Stockdale. 1999 when Steve Bracks was
leader, there was no debate with Jeff Kennett then. So Steve Bracks introduced one debate. In 2002
there was one then, one in 2006. This time round we've done more than that, so we had the customary
ABC debate on Friday night, and in addition of course, as you're aware, last week at the Burvale
Hotel we had the Sky News/Herald Sun debate, so we've had two of those.

Greg Sheridan: It wasn't a debate actually though, was it?

John Brumby: I actually think it was better than a debate. To be honest, if you lined up a couple
of hundred thousand Victorians and compared the one on Friday night with the one on Wednesday in
terms of information, questions, seeing politicians the way they are, I thought the Burvale was
probably a better forum. I thought we were exposed to tougher questions. For both Ted and I, I
thought it was a tougher environment actually, open to more scrutiny, but I think it was better for
the public. Greg, in addition to that of course we're doing a final appearance appearance at the
Melbourne Press Club. I think that's next week. Again, it won't be a head to head debate, but I
think they'll be having Mr. Baillieu one day and me the other, so we're doing more of this than we
did in the past to be fair. As I said, there was none in the 1990s, we've had two this election,
and I think that's a fair balance.

Peter Van Onselen: Mr. Premier, it's great for Sky News certainly to get the endorsement that you
preferred the debate that we had over the ABC's more formal debate! But onto a local issue for you,
you're heading to Geelong today. Most of the media attention will probably end up being on Ted
Baillieu, he's launching his campaign. But you've got some health announcements down there?

John Brumby: Yes, I'm going down to Geelong actually later this morning, Peter, so I'll be making
some big announcements down there. As you know, Geelong is growing very rapidly and Geelong is now
bigger than Hobart, bigger than the whole of the Northern Territory, and we've got some big
developments at Armstrong's Creek, south of Geelong. So I'll be announcing a new public hospital in
Geelong today, $85 million in the southern parts of Geelong, servicing that Armstrong's
Creek/Bellarine area. It'll have 32 acute beds, plus operating theatres and a range of other
supports. In addition, we've got a lot of pressure on our existing Geelong Hospital, so I'll be
announcing an $80 million re-development of that, with a further 62 beds. So in total $165 million
of new investment in Geelong, lifting the performance of our existing hospital, building a new
hospital, planning for the future. I think, Peter, that's really what this election is about. It is
about the times ahead. It's about meeting the challenge. We've got a thousand Victorians every week
who turn 65, so we need to be investing in our healthcare facilities, and that's what I'm doing in
Geelong today.

Peter Van Onselen: Can I ask you a general question? This is probably the political scientist in
me, but this is a problem for all governments, not yours specifically. But the idea that you're in
power for X number of years, and yet when election time rolls around there's this suite of promises
that have been saved up or stored up for the campaign itself. It makes it very hard for governments
to get past voter cynicism, which I think is stronger in today's age than it has perhaps ever been,
about this idea of voters thinking why didn't we hear about these decisions and these announcements
in the last X number of years or even months? Why did we have to wait till you were just about to
try to seek our vote? How do you overcome that?

John Brumby: It's an interesting question actually, because we had it come up the other day on our
health policy. So we announced $1.5 billion for health, and I see some of the comments in the
letters to the Editor said why didn't we have that announcement earlier? But of course if you look
in the eleven years we've been in government, we've added 11,300 new nurses into our system. So
every year, every budget we've been doing more. But an election is an election; it's about your
vision for the next four years. So I think it's completely appropriate that in that period you say
what it is that you're going to do in the next four years. So you build on what you've done. You
say this is what we've achieved to date. There's more to do, which is our view. There's always more
to do. This is what we will do, if elected. So call it the contract with Victoria, call it whatever
you like - it's promising what we believe we can deliver and then being re-elected it's going out
and delivering that. So I think an election campaign is the appropriate place to do that. It may be
a little bit confusing to some people, but I think it's completely and absolutely appropriate, and
of course it provides an opportunity too for the media and the public to scrutinise political
parties, and particularly as we're saying in relation to Mr. Baillieu, $9.6 billion worth of
unfunded promises, they would put the budget into deficit. So what's he hiding? Why won't he have
his policies costed by Treasury? Why is he hiding the figures like Tony Abbott did?

Paul Kelly: But if we look at what you've been saying, Mr. Brumby, you've sent a lot of messages in
this election campaign so far. I'd like to ask you to identify the single most important way
Victoria will change if you get re-elected and get a new term?

John Brumby: To be fair, Paul, we've got our campaign launch on Tuesday.

Paul Kelly: You can't wait till Tuesday; I've asked you the question now!

John Brumby: I'm not going to pre-announce all of our policies on this interview this morning.

Peter Van Onselen: But what you are telling us though, Premier, is that you've got a very big
announcement that you're going to make in your campaign launch. Would that be right?

John Brumby: No, I'm not saying that. No, you've done pretty well this morning. I've given you a
$165 million announcement in Geelong! But Paul, the issues going forward, very quickly, you asked
for the single most important blockbuster, if you like. I don't think you can single out a
blockbuster, but it's obviously about the economy and it's about jobs. We are the jobs engine room,
and so the measures we've got in place, the policies, cutting payroll tax to its lowest level for
36 years, keeping the jobs coming, I think is priority number one. Continuing to invest in our
health system, the $1.5 billion, building new hospitals, new beds, the children, the comprehensive
cancer centre, education, I've always been passionate about education, so investing in education,
giving every child the best start, particularly in those early childhood years, and then climate
change. We haven't talked about climate change, but we need to clean up our environment and at the
same time generate new jobs for the future. So if I had to identify the four areas, I would say
they are the four priority areas for our state. Again, I would say from my point of view, I offer
strong leadership, experienced leadership, stable leadership for the future, and I don't believe
you can say that about Mr. Baillieu.

Peter Van Onselen: Mr. Premier, can I ask you one final question before we let you go? This is me
coming as an outsider; I'm not a resident of Victoria. But a lot of what you see written praises
the Kennett years for the reforms that they instituted, and then praises yours and Bracks'
governments for fiscal consolidation and building on those reforms in that sense. Do you find it at
all frustrating that most of that positive commentary tends to go to Jeff Kennett for making tough
decisions, and in a sense the implicit suggestion that the Labor Party, whilst governing
responsibly, has perhaps shied away from some of those tough decisions building on that?

John Brumby: I wouldn't read it that way at all. I'm a generous person and I'm happy to see in
Victoria's case that commentators want to analyse why Victoria's going well. The reality is we've
had eleven years of strong, responsible fiscal management in this state, and we've had investment
too in the areas that matter. If you look at the health area for example, when we had the big
debate earlier this year with the federal government over health reform, people like Tony Abbott,
people like Joe Hockey, came out and said that they believe Victoria's health system is the best in
Australia. They were their comments. So I think we've done a lot of things right in Victoria. There
were things that Jeff Kennett did badly and poorly, there were things that he did well. There will
be people who make the same judgments of our government. But I think for Victoria, the strong
economy, our major events strategy, our focus on innovation and biotechnology, these things have
given us a leadership position, and I think that's accepted and usually acclaimed around Australia.
If we're re-elected, that's what I want to build on in the future, and great projects like our
comprehensive cancer centre, great for improving the health of Victorians, but great too in terms
of attracting the world's best researchers in cancer to our state and giving them the opportunity
to find the cures of the future.

Peter Van Onselen: Victorian Premier, John Brumby, we appreciate your company on Australian Agenda.
Thanks for joining us.

John Brumby: Terrific, thank you.

Peter Van Onselen: We're going to go to a break. When we come back, we'll be speaking to
Australia's Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd.

Peter Van Onselen: Welcome back. You're watching Australian Agenda, where I'm joined in the studio
by The Australian's foreign editor, Greg Sheridan, and editor-at-large, Paul Kelly. We're joined
now out of Canberra by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. Mr. Rudd, thanks very much for your company.

Kevin Rudd: Happy to be on the program, Peter.

Peter Van Onselen: Can I just ask you straight off the bat, what's your reaction to the release of
Aung San Suu Kyi?

Kevin Rudd: Absolute delight. I've followed this closely for many, many years. This is an
extraordinary event. Aung San Suu Kyi is an icon of democracy, not just within Burma, but across
the world. But of course the delight, Peter, is tempered by a whole range of other feelings as
well. Those of us who have followed Burma closely in recent years know that what the regime gives
with one hand, they often take with the other. I spoke with our ambassador in Rangoon last night
and we still have no assurances of any description that Aung San Suu Kyi is going to have freedom
of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and whether her political activities are
going to be unimpeded. But your question is how do I feel; when I saw her pop up over the fence
last night, absolutely delighted.

Greg Sheridan: Mr. Rudd, can I ask you, the Obama administration came into office and changed Burma
policy radically. They had a policy of engaging Burma. The last 10 or 15 years of western nations
such as the United States and Australia isolating Burma has seen a collapse of anti-AIDS programs,
it's seen a consolidation of Chinese strategic influence and it's seen no real move in internal
Burmese politics. Do you think this development today will encourage the Australian government and
other western governments to keep engaging Burma? Or is there a danger if Aung San Suu Kyi goes
back into custody, as happened before, that we just get back into that very sterile isolation

Kevin Rudd: Greg, your question goes to the absolute core of the dilemmas faced by western
governments around the world and democratic governments around the world about getting the balance
right on Burma policy. On the one hand, nobody wishes to accord the regime any greater level of
legitimacy than is absolutely necessary. On the other hand, we're faced with the absolute plight of
the Burmese people on the one hand, you've just mentioned some of the human development indicators,
and on the other hand the best efforts to restore Burma to democracy long-term. For Australia, what
we've sought to do, literally in the last year or so, is to re-engage fundamentally on the
development assistance front. We're now contributing some $50 million annually to Burma. That is up
by about $20 million or so over the last year alone. Our big investments, Greg, are in maternal and
child health, where mortality rates at present are the worst in Asia, and in education and in
agricultural development. So we're in there at ground level. At the same time we maintain a
sanctions regime against individual members of the regime. Getting this balance right for us will
be important in the future, and also getting the balance right for other countries engaging with
Burma as well.

Paul Kelly: I'd like to draw you out if I could, Mr. Rudd, on what you think has motivated the
regime to take this decision? What are the calculations you think that they're making, and what do
you think this means for progress over the next couple of years?

Kevin Rudd: Paul, I wish I knew the answer to your question. I think analysts of the regime
continue to scratch their head about decisions by the regime taken one day, one week, one year, and
then what happens in the reverse direction. Therefore my only conclusion can be that the coalition
of international diplomatic support behind Aung San Suu Kyi has become so formidable, and not just
restricted to the, shall I say, traditional western group of countries, but including a much wider
group of newly emerging democracies, the strong voice of Indonesia for example within our own
region, the strong voice also of the Koreans and others. In other words, it's not just the west
telling Burma you've got it wrong, or the regime they've got it wrong, it's the global democratic
family saying to the regime they've got it wrong as well. I think that's been a factor but, Paul,
if I knew the answer to what worked in the regime's mind every day, I'd probably be a very rich
man. I'm sorry, I don't have that information.

Greg Sheridan: Mr. Rudd, Burma has been an embarrassment for ASEAN, the Association of South East
Asian Nations. I guess my question is, do you see a swing towards democratic and human rights
values within ASEAN? Also, how concerned are you by the enormous Chinese strategic investment and
consolidation of Chinese influence within Burma?

Kevin Rudd: Let me take those in sequence, Greg. On the first one, I think the transformation
within ASEAN itself has been a phenomenon to observe in the last five years or so, and you've
covered this closely in your writings in The Australian. For example, the leading role now taken by
Indonesia as a successful secular democracy in an Islamic country in gaining its regional and
global democratic voice, I think that's been a big factor. For example, next month they'll attend
the Bali Democracy Forum, an initiative of President Yudhoyono's, which he got going some years
ago, to extend the voice of democracy and extend the tent of the democratic family in Asia with an
Asian country, that is Indonesia, taking the lead. So therefore I see Indonesia as having been a
very strong voice in this evolution of a greater democratic and human rights norm within ASEAN's
let's call it internal and external posture. The second part of your question went to China.
Obviously the regime in Burma has a very close relationship with China. We saw the regime's leaders
visit China within the last several months. I think this will be a continued challenge for the
Chinese leadership, because the more China supports regimes such as those we find in North Korea,
those we find in Burma, those we find in the Sudan and elsewhere, the more that detracts from
China's own global international standing. Obviously there are big Chinese strategic assets at play
in Burma. We're aware of that. But I believe also there's a force at work within China which wants
to see it assume a greater global international posture, which is not just drawn down all the time
by association with some of the world's most obnoxious regimes.

Paul Kelly: On some of these points, Mr. Rudd, there is a moral factor, if you like a moral
crusade, at work here. I'm just wondering to what extent you think in a direct or maybe more
indirect way this could have consequences for the entire Asian region? There is a cause here. Do
you think that the power of this idea, the power of freedom and democracy will take heart at this
event from a wider sense and have implications for the region?

Kevin Rudd: I began my remarks, Paul, today by saying that Aung San Suu Kyi is not just an icon for
democracy within Burma, but an icon for democracy across the world. Of course, that speaks across
Asia as well. There is something very powerful about this idea and its ideal. It's irrepressible.
People wish constantly, wherever they are, to extend the tent of freedom - that is being able to
make free choices about what they say, about where they go, about what job they get, about their
ability to travel. These are very fundamental freedoms. Often in the west, as you know, and in this
country, Australia, we take these freedoms for granted. But there is something universally potent
about this idea which is irrepressible. It will bubble up, it will be knocked to one side in
various parts of the world from time to time, but it bubbles up again. Our job as democracies and
the family of democracies around the world is to continue to adhere to one core principle. That is
that for us democracy and universal human rights are precisely that; these are universal values.
Therefore it is part of who we are as Australia and part of who we are as members of the western
community of nations to constantly hold up this universal value, even though that's going to create
political friction from time to time, and sometimes that friction can get a bit rough.

Peter Van Onselen: Mr. Rudd, we'll let you go. We do appreciate you joining us on Australian Agenda
to give us your reactions to Aung San Suu Kyi's release, as well as its implications for the
region. Thanks very much.

Kevin Rudd: Thanks for having me on the program.

Peter Van Onselen:

Peter Van Onselen: Dr. Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian opposition leader, has had a controversial
political career. He was the Deputy Prime Minister between 1993 and 1998 and a close personal ally
of then PM Mahathir. However the men had a falling out over how to handle the Asian financial
crisis and whether protectionist policies that Mahathir supported were indeed the best way for the
nation to go. In 1999, corruption charges resulted in a six year imprisonment for Dr. Anwar
Ibrahim, and a year later he received a nine year sentence on trumped up sodomy charges. The
conviction for that was overturned in 2004. However in 2008, he was again arrested on what appear
to be trumped up sodomy charges. He's currently in the parliament, he's currently the opposition
leader, and he joins us for a discussion about what he wants to see change in Malaysia, including a
freeing up of the press and a more liberalising of the economy. Dr. Anwar, we appreciate you
joining us here on Australian Agenda in the studio.

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: Thank you, Peter.

Peter Van Onselen: Can I start by asking you about events in Burma, with the release of Aung San
Suu Kyi. What's your reaction to it?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: We of course are elated and my wife in particular, Azizah, who has been in very
close contact with Aung San Suu Kyi, welcomed this news. Our concern is whether the freedom means
the beginning for the march for freedom for the Burmese people. I think this is of course the next
agenda which we look forward to, and we are very supportive of the Suu Kyi agenda.

Greg Sheridan: Anwar, it's great to see you back in Australia. But could you just update us on
where you're at now with the various legal matters? What's the state of play of that?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: We're still at the prosecution stage. We have not got witness leads, we have not
got the medical documents. We are just going around a protracted battle in court. I think the
judiciary is still under the thumb of the Executive, and so I don't have so much confidence in the
judicial process. But we will go through the process.

Greg Sheridan: So there's no trial date yet or anything like that?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: Yes, we will resume on 22nd November, still at the prosecution stage, still
battling for documents from the doctors.

Greg Sheridan: Do you think there's any chance of the government just dropping this prosecution
because it lacks credibility and there's so much international criticism of it?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: That seems to be our expectation, but they seem to be quite determined to secure
conviction. We will have to wait and see.

Greg Sheridan: Just a final question on this matter, and it's a personal question. You endured
tough years in prison. If they convict you again, are you prepared to face that fate again?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: I do not expect a conviction, Greg, because there is no case. From the beginning
there was this QC Mark Trowell support presented to the IPU and the ICG, the International
Commission of Juries, giving a very detailed account of the whole flawed process. So there's no way
they can convict. But knowing the system, that possibility I have to contend with. I'm prepared,
Azizah and the family are quite ready. They are not happy with it, but this is a price we have to

Peter Van Onselen: Dr. Anwar, what keeps you going? It is a system that is not quite the democracy
that we have here in Australia. You're the opposition leader, yet you appear willing to try to work
within the system, even though that system has large elements to it that frankly don't seem to be
that fair.

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: You see, when Mandela invited me and the family to visit him after I was
released, he said, Anwar, people like us must be either mad or crazy. So I said to him, no, we are
not mad, but certainly we are quite crazy. We live in quite a repressive system, we understand the
limitations and the predicament we're in, but then I don't have a choice. We are committed to the
reformation now, we're democrats, and I think more so as a Muslim, we don't want in Islam to be
seen as a supporter of an authoritarian dictator regime. Therefore we have to march on.

Paul Kelly: I'd like to ask you about foreign policy. We've had the AUSMIN talks in Melbourne this
week with Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton. The main message from the American side was that
America is committed to Asia, America is looking at how it can strengthen and intensify its
commitment in the Asian region, and the unspoken agenda here of course is the rise of China. I'd
like to ask you, from your perspective, how you respond to the United States role in Asia? How
important is it for the United States to maintain a strong role in the region, a balancing role in
relation to China? And how deep are the concerns in South East Asia about the rise of China?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: In terms of engagement, I think our position is that we must continue to engage
with the United States, with China. In fact one of the contentious issues I had with Mahathir was
over the notion of the EAEC to preclude Australia/New Zealand on one side, and of course India's
participation. I thought we have to talk about Asia to include China, Japan, Australia and New
Zealand, because that would be at least the voice for democracy and freedom is quite pronounced. So
whilst continuing this engagement with China, particularly business economic relations, I think we
should maintain our independence, our position vis-à-vis the call for reform and freedom. We should
not be a coward to imagine or to assume that this is purely a western or American agenda. So I
would want to certainly see America taking the more firm position on this, which has been a cause
of concern. Even in particular in the case of Aung San Suu Kyi and the engagement with Burma, there
was a growing expectation initially after the Obama administration to do or to say more. But
there's clearly some sort of consternation and disillusionment, because they have not been as
strong. Secretary Clinton was there, she did have a telephone conversation with me and reiterated
their position. I mean this is not just personal, but it reflects the American position, and I
think they are trying to show that they are still very much on, in terms of the democracy agenda.
This with China is very, very critical.

Greg Sheridan: Anwar, just an element of that. Malaysia has personnel in Afghanistan at the moment,
particularly female Muslim doctors, who are very helpful in the Afghanistan situation. But this is
also seen as being friendly and supportive towards the United States. Do you think it's a good idea
for Malaysia to have personnel in Afghanistan? Is it something that you support?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: We are opposed to that, because we don't see the basis for our support or being
seen to be supportive of the American occupation or even military presence in Afghanistan. I think
the process is quite flawed. The reluctance to engage with the process within Afghanistan, and the
huge civilian women, children causalities cannot be defended. I'm not suggesting that you should
support the authoritarian dictators of the Taliban-type regime, but there must be a preparedness on
the part of the United States not to proceed with the Iraqi type of occupation in Afghanistan. So
we are opposed. The problem with Dato' Sri Najib, the Prime Minister, is this. He will go to the
United States and of course concede to everything the United States asks him to do, even with the
Iranians. We are not for necessarily a support of the Iranian regime, but Malaysia has this unique
position of being able to engage with the Iranians, so we should not take the Washington line. We
should be supportive of some of the positions, vis-à-vis the nuclear weapons, but we must I think
depart so that we attain that unique position of being able to engage with the Iranians that we
have lost.

Paul Kelly: One of the initiatives launched by the new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is
for a regional processing centre dealing with asylum seekers who come from the Middle East and
South Asia to South East Asia. She suggested that East Timor would be an appropriate centre for
such a regional centre. Talks have been held with both the Indonesian and Malaysian governments
about this proposal. What is your view about the principle of regional processing of asylum

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: I welcome the idea, although we will have to look at these details. Is this
meant to create too many restrictions? Or is it meant to be a transparent processing method?
Malaysia for example also encountered these problems, vis-à-vis the Philippines and the Indonesians
into Malaysia. Of course we will not welcome this like that, but we should not take punitive
action. That is why I think the Prime Minister's proposal or initiative must be seriously
considered. I would view this positively, because no country should be discommunative, but at the
same time be expected to just allow in-flow without any sort of check or verification.

Peter Van Onselen: You say it should be seriously considered, but how long do you think it will
take for that consideration to result in a regional processing centre, along the lines that Julia
Gillard is talking about, being able to be set up somewhere in the region?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: Peter, sometimes with governmental things, they won't say no, but they will say
yes, but then they will take three years. So I think we should have a clear timeframe. This is
something which is important for Australians and important for Malaysians too, to have actually a
transparent mechanism that we can put in place. So I would say that if this is certainly a privacy
agenda, three months, six months should be a fair time period for us to reflect on this and discuss
it, and agree.

Greg Sheridan: Anwar, it wouldn't be fair to expect you to have tremendous detail on this regional
processing centre. But from discussions within Malaysia, Malaysians tell me there's no chance that
the Malaysian government would ever contribute a dollar to this matter. Would you see the regional
processing centre as a place where asylum seekers are transferred to, from Malaysia? Is there a
danger that the regional asylum centre in East Timor would be a magnet, drawing more people into
the region?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: I don't believe so, seriously, because I think we will have to see, it is not to
encourage asylum seekers, but there are legitimate cases that must be considered. We are supposed
to be democratic, at least we claim to be a civilised government. We cannot just ignore stark
problems, realities, on the ground. I can't understand why the Malaysian authorities would just
reject outright. It's not a matter of shortage of resources. We have a show of opulence and ??
expenditure in everything else. But this is something very critical, not only to Australia, but
also to Malaysia and the region.

Peter Van Onselen: Dr. Anwar, can I draw you back to Malaysian politics? In terms of your
campaigning and your interest in fighting politically within Malaysia, what are the issues that are
driving you? What are the issues that you really want to see open debate about?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: I'm moving onto Canberra this afternoon and meeting the members of parliament
tomorrow and sharing with them some of our concerns. The electoral process is fraudulent. We have
difficulty in persuading governments to go and have a look, but probably we can persuade MPs to
express themselves. Where else would we look to in Asia, if not Australia/New Zealand, to at least
express their views and their concerns, and now Indonesia of course, which is a great friend and
ally in terms of the march for freedom and democracy. We could not have these hundreds and
thousands of postal votes and not one minute access to the media. I happen to be the opposition
leader. I don't have one minute access to the mainstream media, other than a daily barrage of
Jewish agents, American agents, Chinese agents going on. So the issue of the media, judicial
independence. Malaysia has been dependent for the last half a century and we can't just have these
huge pious platitudes and ?? announcements about one Malaysian democratic country, moderate Islam.

Peter Van Onselen: You would like to see the Australian government be more vocal on some of these

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: Yes. I mean it's generally expected for a country that professes to have
democracy to also support universal principles, including democratic values. They cannot just
consider and go to Malaysia and say, well it's a great moderate Muslim country. I would consider
that an insult. How do you consider a Muslim country moderate when it's so corrupt?

Paul Kelly: So you're really asking the Australian parliament to get more involved? Would you like
to see more Australian parliamentary delegations go to Malaysia and start to probe some of these
issues and individual MPs, or parliamentary delegations speak out on these issues?

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: Yes. The EU parliament has gone and we have persuaded them even to go more
proactive on these specific issues. I'm persuading the Australian parliament and of course US
congress and the Turkish parliament, and more so the Indonesian parliament and friends there.

Peter Van Onselen: Dr. Anwar Ibrahim, we are over time, a sign that we've enjoyed talking to you.
We do appreciate you joining us here in the studio. Thanks for your company.

Dr. Anwar Ibrahim: Thank you, Peter.