Gathering of democracy icons
Former President Joseph Estrada hosted a dinner for Malaysian former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Datin Seri Wan Azizah, and former President Cory Aquino Friday.
Following is the account of Estrada spokesperson Margaux Salcedo:
Ibrahim arrived at 7 p.m. sharp at Estrada’s residence at #1 Polk Street, North Greenhills. He was accompanied by his wife, Opposition Leader and Member of Parliament Datin Seri Wan Azizah.
The couple were personally greeted by Estrada and Cory Aquino, who had arrived earlier with her son Senator Noynoy Aquino, and by former cabinet members of the Estrada administration who had met Anwar in the past, including Sec. Jose Pardo and Sec. Ben Diokno.
“This is a coming together of icons of democracy,” Estrada said.
Mrs. Aquino was looking quite strong and was in very jovial spirits.
It was the frist meeting of Anwar and Estrada since they both got out of prison. “This is important to me because he is more than a friend to me, he is like family,” Anwar said of Estrada. Asked what he liked most about Estrada, Anwar said, “It is his passion for the poor that amazes me the most. I really see his sincerity in trying to uplift the plight of the masses.” Estrada returned the compliment, saying that Anwar was “not only brilliant but also sincere.”
Azizah said this meeting is important to them because they had been wanting to visit former President Estrada wanted he was incarcerated but they were not allowed by the government to do so.
Dinner was an elaborate fine dining experience catered by French Corner Chef Billy King but the mood was very casual and pleasant. The dinner included lamb, roast beef, sea bass and lobster. This was followed by an evening of song where Estrada sang traditional Filipino songs to the delight of the Malaysians.
Earlier in the afternoon, Anwar spoke at a forum in RCBC auditorium organized by the De La Salle College of Business and Economics, Ramon V del Rosario Sr. Graduate School of Business and Asian Institute of Democracy.
Here’s the story of Inquirer’s Tarra Quismundo and Norman Bordadora:
Anwar urges Malaysia not to pull out peace monitors
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Friday called on the Malaysian government to resume its engagement in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) that keeps watch over the ceasefire agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
At a forum in Makati City, Anwar, former Malaysian deputy prime minister, said the Malaysian participation in the IMT had proved effective in keeping both sides calm as they continued to talk peace.
“The saying that they can fight fire with fire is not true in this regard. That is why we in the opposition have come out very strongly to call on the Malaysian government to resume its participation in the peace monitoring team in Mindanao,” Anwar told an audience of students, professors and diplomats at the RCBC Plaza in Makati City on Friday.
Kuala Lumpur is set to complete a total pullout of its monitoring team from Mindanao by September.
Anwar said the Malaysian government could express “strong views to Manila” so long as it re-engages in the “multilateral effort to reduce skirmishes in the region.”
“It has been proven that the team has helped, and it is unfortunate [for Malaysia] to ignore that importance and therefore withdraw,” Anwar said.
Anwar, who is here for a two-day visit, was guest speaker at a forum on Islam and peace organized by De La Salle University Graduate School of Business.
On Thursday night, former Speaker Jose de Venecia hosted a dinner for him at the Pangasinan lawmaker’s residence in Makati City.
The dinner was attended by former President Fidel Ramos, Senate President Manuel Villar and former National Security Adviser Jose Almonte.
Also present were De Venecia’s wife, Gina, Ibrahim’s wife, Azizah, and Villar’s spouse, Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, as well as some foreign diplomats and civil society members.
De Venecia said he, Ibrahim and Villar agreed to press for a “global Christian-Muslim and interreligious dialogue” to help resolve the political and religious conflicts in many parts of the world and to call for the focusing of Asian resources on making possible the massive production of rice.
Ibrahim and De Venecia praised Saudi King Abdullah and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s former president, for the ongoing meeting of Sunni and Shiite leaders in Mecca.
The dialogue, they said, could represent a “religious breakthrough and set an example for beleaguered nations like Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine that are plagued by deadly fighting among Sunnis and Shiites, the two rival camps within Islam.”
De Venecia said those present at the dinner also agreed to join forces in calling for the passage of an Asia-wide legislation that would seek to have governments provide state subsidies to political parties to stop or reduce political corruption and “money politics,” and prevent traffickers of illegal drugs from financing political candidates who endanger good governance.
They further agreed that Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and South Asia should develop a disaster response capability, backed by funding and manpower and working with the United Nations, to undertake emergency missions such as the massive relief operations following the earthquake in China that killed over 80,000 and rendered more than two million homeless.
De Venecia had earlier presented these proposals at the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, the Asian Parliamentary Assembly and the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.
Here’s the report of Agence France Presse
Malaysia’s opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim said Friday that a “multi-racial, multi-religious” opposition was emerging in his country for the first time to challenge the ruling party.
The 60-year-old former deputy prime minister said many Malaysians of all races and religions were “sick and tired of corruption, of the destruction of the judiciary.”
There is a “multi-racial, multi-religious cohesion of emerging forces in Malaysia which is clamoring for change,” Anwar told an academic forum in the Philippines.
Recently there have been growing fears over “Islamization” of Malaysia and the increasing polarization of the three main ethnic communities.
About 60 percent of Malaysia’s 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims. The country’s minority Chinese and Indians are mostly Buddhists, Hindus or Christians.
Anwar, once heir-apparent to long-time former premier Mahathir Mohamad, spent six years in jail on sex and corruption charges, but now leads a resurgent opposition.