Who really is Anwar Ibrahim?

May 21, 2018

Q: It seems like you are very favorable to Anwar Ibrahim being elected as PM of Malaysia. There have been many occasions when you have praised his suitability for this post. What is the main reasons for your confidence?

A: I have never ever said that Anwar will make the perfect PM for Malaysia. This is fake news. There is a very good reason for this – I don’t know what Anwar stands for. He has been out of the political circuit for over twenty years and during that time in the wilderness there has been endless speculation concerning his position on this and that. To be honest I dont believe anyone knows either.

Having said all that what I am prepared to concede is this. I have indeed praised his suitability for the post of PM and that is because I consider jail time to be a necessary precondition to be a good prime minister.

Q: Why do you ascribe such a premium to jail time and the job of the PM?

A: No need to talk so much. Want the next perfect PM for Singapore. Very simple. Throw the list of potentials: Heng Swee Keat, Chan Chun Sing and Ong Ye Kung into jail for three years with one year in solitary confinement. At the end of it all, I can more or less guarantee 100%, you will end up with the perfect PM for Singapore and Singaporeans.

Q: Why is it so important for you to find out who Anwar is?

A: There are two camps here. The first are still in cloud 9. We suspect they will be there for a very long time. This category of people believe all the problems Malaysia may have once faced will magically melt like lemon drops and they may even entertain the valecditorian belief from this point onwards good has triumph over evil and that can only end happily ever after.

There is however another camp. Men who hide in the shadows. These category of folk understand only too well that this is not the end as it is a beginning. It is a beginning that can go very wrong. Let me give you a few examples, before all this Malaysia was barelling head long into islamification or arabification. The ruling party had formed an alliance with PAS, syariah and possibly hudud was in the cards. Do you Kompf for one moment believe, the momentum for all this will suddenly dissipate? And what about identity or race politics, will that disappear overnight? Or for that matter those in the provinces who have traditionally supported BN but on this occasion voted for PH, will there be a gap between yearning and desire amongst these category of voters? So as you can see things are hardly clear cut.

Trust me when I say, we are not out of the woods yet.

Q: Recently Bloomberg asked whether Anwar would repeal the affirmative-action rules once he becomes premier, Mr Anwar said he would “honour the guarantees” for ethnic Malays as set out in the constitution. Do you see this as parti keadilan U turn on creating a more equitable society based on meritocracy?

A: I have always maintained there is no intelligent way to eliminate identity or race politics in Malaysia. This will always be an indelible feature of the political scene in Malaysia. One part that accounts for this is demographics, the other is how the different races are clumped together, the malays being in the kampungs and the chinese and Indians in towns and cities. So I dont see how race based politics can be completely eliminated in Malaysia.

Is this a U turn by Anwar? I dont know. As I mentioned he has been out in the wilderness for so long, its very hard to gauge his position. To be fair, one should give him and his party leadership some settling in time before it is possible to point to this or that and say definitively, this is their position that is not. As it is, its too early in the game to tell.

Q: Why do you think Anwar has decided not to take a proactive ministerial role in PH?

A: I dont know. As I said we need time.

Q: How will you go about finding out?

A: What books does he read on a regular basis? Anwar has been invited to speak in Universities. We will have to see from there.

Q: I need to press on with a question that I have asked. This is a special request from the guilds – Why do you think Anwar has decided not to take a proactive ministerial role in PH?

A: There are several possible reasons – the first is Anwar doesnt want to create any reason for Mahathir to renege from the deal of appointing him as PM after one or two years.

The second is Anwar doesnt want to be part of Mahathir myth making machine. Mahathir has sold himself as a saviour to Malaysians. But for this perceptive shift to be convincing, he has to make things look from bad to worse. Especially the economy. The irony is under Najib, all the right things were done. As I mentioned previously GST is the right way to go given the small revenue base and over dependence of commodities and oil.

The third reason is Anwar wants to create his own power base. And this he can only do if he is not widely perceived to be in alignment with either PH or Mahathir. What you need to understand is BN may well be a dead duck, but UMNO is very much kicking and alive. It was the single individual party that still managed to garner the highest number of votes despite losing. So dont let people sell you the idea BN or UMNO is kaput. Currently if you look at what is happening in UMNO, they are leaderless, there is a power vacumm there that can be exploited. Because many in UMNO now have good reasons to fear the new darth vader mahathir administration.

So as it is. There is alot motivation along with scope for improvisation and negotiations. The way I see it. Everything is on table and open to negotiations. This is the first time this has happened in the Malaysian political scene. So hold on anything can happen.

Q: Who do you think Malaysians supported Anwar or Mahathir?

A: Who I believe the voters backed is quite irrelevant. What you need to understand is Parti Keadilan firmly believe without Anwar chipping away all these years, there would be no such thing as a second merdeka. But no one can deny Mahathir was certainly the man of the hour. He was certainly the man who brought it all full circle and home.

If you ask me, that has to be very hard on Anwar. Because all these years he’s been fighting relentlessly in the wilderness and paying the price day in and day out, but when it comes to the ticker parade, its the other man who gets all the glory.

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