KUALA LUMPUR, June 17: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said the recent media reports about a militant group operating in the country were an attempt by the government to divert public attention from the many problems plaguing the nation.
He said these include the sports betting and APCO controversies, the surrender of Malaysian land in Tanjong Pagar to the Singapore government, the surrender of two oil-rich blocks to Brunei, and the sale of the Sungai Besi military airport for private development.
“This is an attempt by UMNO-BN to divert attention from the sports betting issue as well as other issues concerning the nation's sovereignty, such as the transfer of national assets to certain private entities", he told reporters at the parliament lobby today.
Several newspapers today reported about the arrest of 10 people, including nine foreigners, who the police said were planning to conduct terror attacks in the country, including to conduct attack on houses of worship.
They include four Syrians, two Yemenis, two Nigerians, a Jordanian, all of whom were deported to the countries. Police claimed they were members of the Jemaah Islamiyah group, which has been linked to Al Qaeda.
Anwar, reiterating no compromise on any extremist tendencies, however warned police chief Musa Hassan and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein not to use it as a pretext to detain people without trial.
Anwar also expressed doubts about the truth of the government's claim that the ten belonged to JI.
“Why are they not charged but deported to their countries?" he asked.
Meanwhile at the same press conference, PAS vice president Mahfuz Omar questioned Musa's motive in making public the arrest of the individuals.
“If he (Musa) considers it a national security issue, why did he resort to making it public?," he asked, adding that it could be Musa's ploy to continue to keep his post and get the prime minister's support in the wake of recent revelations of strained ties between him and Hishammuddin.