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Who is Anwar Ibrahim?

In History, Malaysia on September 18, 2008 at 7:19 pm

(let the man speak – full statement, then see my questions below; also see my ‘UPDATE – 20th Sep’ at the end)


Full statement by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim:

Today Pakatan Rakyat leaders have submitted a letter to the Prime Minister requesting him to call an emergency session of Parliament to deliberate a motion of censure against the leadership of YAB Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi no later than Tuesday 23 September 2008.

This is in accordance with Order 11(3) of the Standing Orders of Parliament and warrants an immediate response given the gravity of today’s political impasse. A delay in his response would be interpreted as nothing short of a further sabotage of the democratic process and abuse of Executive Power.

The Prime Minister’s haggling on the syntax of our first letter is puerile at best. The intent of our meeting as described in that letter was clearly to discuss the future course of the nation’s leadership – though in deference to his position and in accordance with acceptable norms we remain considerate and polite in our approach.

I find the Prime Minister’s comment about me in his press conference yesterday to be reckless and irresponsible in light of the disastrous outcome of last Friday’s ISA raids.

He has conflated what is essentially an issue of democracy, freedom and the rule of law with national security. The use of the ISA to harass and detain duly elected political opponents is a grave transgression of the law and its continued use would further erode confidence in the current government and exacerbate political instability.

As the incumbent Prime Minister actively holding office and exercising all Executive powers, and as the outgoing Finance Minister, we hold him fully accountable for the current political turmoil and mismanagement of the nation’s economy. His accusation that I have had an adverse impact on the nation’s economy is entirely without basis.

I have met with the key fund managers in the region, representing over US$1 trillion in assets, and on multiple occasions they were unanimously in support of comprehensive reforms in Malaysia including judicial independence, a free media, a more professional police force and anti-corruption agency, investor friendly laws and assurances on the non-interference of politicians in the governance of Bank Negara. These are policies Pakatan Rakyat has promised to implement (my emphasis) – and initiatives that the current administration has done virtually nothing to advance since March 8th.


My thoughts

Anwar’s criticism of Badawi:

He(Badawi) has conflated what is essentially an issue of democracy, freedom and the rule of law with national security. The use of the ISA to harass and detain duly elected political opponents is a grave transgression of the law and its continued use would further erode confidence in the current government and exacerbate political instability.

  • rule of law: What did Anwar do during the 1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis?
  • freedom and issue of democracy: What did Anwar do during Ops Lalang in 1987 – one of the worst suppression of dissent in Malaysia’s history?
  • His actions prior, remember how he challenged Ghafar Baba to be DPM to Mahathir?
  • How has Anwar ‘changed‘ (Google news archive on Anwar’s politics, 1980 to 2008)?
  • In ‘An open letter to Non-Malays‘ (2004), Anwar’s current Chief of Staff / Sec-Gen of PKR, Salehuddin Hashim concluded with this:

For as long as Anwar remains an icon for reforms, he will never be forgotten. Neither will his call for justice and a civil society be divorced from the everyday life of fair-thinking Malaysians. Because of Anwar’s expose, Malays will never look up to Umno the way they did before. Because of the Anwar saga, the Malays have dared to shed the docility that plagued them before.

It is poetic justice that it is the man who was the prime cause of the rot in Umno that is almost forgotten already, as if the public can’t wait to be done with his extravagance, arrogance and hyperbole.

My questions

  • How is Anwar an icon for reform? When did he call for justice and a civil society for fair-thinking Malaysians?
  • Is it ‘poetic justice’ or plain irony that Anwar is now seeking the same position that he fought for, and lost, against Mahathir in the late 90s?
  • Should we, therefore, allow him his “extravagance, arrogance and hyperbole”?

Malaysians can either accept Anwar at his extravagance, arrogance and hyperbole (as per Salehuddin Hashim)?

Or should we focus on his deed and remind him of his actions and failures as a leader?

He has to acknowledge the failure of Malaysia during the 1988 crisis, the unreasonableness of 1987, and the irresponsibility of his actions before that.

How? Simple, tell him to. Tell him we do not want him to be Malaysia’s next Emperor / imperious Prime Minister.

Then tell him power must be shared by the judiciary, legislature and government.

Make a choice, it’s your country too.


UPDATE – 20th Sep:

On 19th Sep, a day after this post, the Jakarta Post publishedCracking Malaysia‘. Rocky’s bru has some thoughts about this. The most important bit is here:

Let us remind our Malaysian cousins that based on Indonesia’s own painful experience, a change of allegiance at the elite level is not equivalent to a change in fundamental beliefs toward the primacy of civil society.

Defecting lawmakers from the ruling coalition to the opposition does not make them democracy’s soldiers, only political opportunists.

We fear that what we are seeing in Malaysia is neither revolution nor evolution, but is instead a potential transition from one power to another.”

As Rocky observed (see link above), why would Indonesia’s Jakarta Post meddle? Unless, they are not meddling as such, but sharing their views openly. What’s the cost to Malaysians to rethink, carefully this time, who is Anwar Ibrahim? Badawi is not as popular today, especially the recent non-decisions re the ISA detentions, but is Anwar better? Really? How do you know? Because, he said he will implement sweeping reforms?

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