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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

> Pak Lah meets Anwar

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today had lunch and a rare meeting with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim at a function in Hulu Langat, Selangor.

The presence of the two leaders at the same table raised eyebrows as well as questions on whether the outgoing premier and the waiting-to-be premier are stitching a political pact.

While some in the opposition camp, including PKR Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar Md Akim, who was with Anwar today, have denied that there was a "secret meeting" between the duo, this however has not stop the speculation.

According to a source close to Anwar, the two leaders had a four-eye meeting which lasted about 20 minutes. 

"Anwar asked Abdullah how he could have entrusted the country to (Deputy Prime Minister) Najib (Razak), which the PM said it was too late to do anything now," said the source.

According to the source, Abdullah hinted that he had a core of loyal supporters within the party who would keep Najib in check.

"The two leaders talked about the need to salvage the country and agreed to keep communication lines open between them." 

The lunch between the two leaders took place at the house of a religious school head some three hours before Najib unveiled the RM60 billion stimulus package in Parliament at 4pm.

Abdullah and Anwar, both of whom are known for their religious credentials, were invited by the school for the Maulid Rasul (Prophet Muhammad's birthday) celebrations.

Crowd was stunned

Political writer Mohd Sayuti Omar, who was also at the function, said he was informed by the organiser that the duo had talks regarding the possibility of Abdullah remaining in power.

In his blog, Mohd Sayuti said the crowd of about 1,000 were anticipating Anwar's arrival but were stunned when the prime minister showed up.

"Abdullah was expected to visit the school tomorrow to officiate a meeting of international ulamas. His presence this afternoon raised questions since it coincided with Anwar's visit," he added.

According to Mohd Sayuti, Abdullah arrived at school some 20 minutes before Anwar and his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, were there.

"The two of them were taken to (head of the religious school) Syeikh Mahmud Al-Mazjub's house for lunch. They were in the house for nearly two hours.

"The duo then performed their Zohor (afternoon) prayers together," he said, adding that the leaders later emerged smiling and they shook hands.

It is learnt that the two leaders were pursuaded to meet by Syeikh Mahmud.

"What happened today was historical, we hope it works!" Mohd Sayuti quoted an organiser of the event as saying.

In his blog, Anwar said that people should not read too much into the meeting.

"There have been too many assumptions and interpretations regarding our presence at the event," he lamented - Malaysiakini.