Commentary Politics

Anwar no longer undisputed poster boy of politics

By quitting his seat, Danyal (left) has opened the first door to allow Anwar to return to Parliament.

Written by Aziz Hassan

September 16, 2018.

Recollections & Reflections – A commentary

ANOTHER by-election but this one slotted for Port Dickson has a special reason of its own – and that’s to put one man to Parliamentary as part of the plan to finally make him prime minister.

Opinions differ as to the wisdom of having MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah make way for his PKR party’s president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim but since Anwar appears to be in a hurry to make it to the house, this is the only way he can get there.

The other option is to take over from another representative who has died or who is too ill to continue as an MP but the problem with this is that no one can tell when and if it will happen within the two-year period the Pakatan Harapan government has planned for Anwar’s ascendancy to the country’s top political office.

There have been voices that pin the blame on the PD Move on PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli but the simple fact of the matter is that no plan this crucial can go ahead without Anwar’s consent.

But if anyone is looking for others to blame, there’s Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who came up with this succession plan in the first place following his Pakatan’s victory in the general elections on May 9.

What has emerged following the decision by Danyal to surrender his seat is how some in the PKR leadership group find it so objectionable and from there, the observer can see that indeed there are factions in PKR, just like in another political party.

Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin is definitely not with Rafizi and it’s safe to say that she is with incumbent deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, the man Rafizi wants to unseat at the forthcoming PKR election. Vice-president Tian Chua also looks to be not with Rafizi. Another who’s strongly against the PD Move is PKR central committee member and lawyer Latheefa Beebi Koya, who was scathing in her condemnation.

But secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution and the Youth section are certainly with Rafizi and backing Anwar.

Following strong criticisms, Anwar tried to justify it by saying that Mahathir had no objection.

Maybe so but that doesn’t score any points for his side because Mahathir’s non-objection or even an endorsement doesn’t mean a thing because he’s not going to be among the voters. What counts is how the people of PD decide to vote, nothing more, nothing less.

There is this one other factor that no commentator appears to have ignored and that’s about how support for a politician can shift so easily.

Mahathir’s return to active politics has pushed Anwar further into the background

Anwar was for a long time placed on a pedestal and seen as the country’s next big thing, the man who could do no wrong and the man anointed to be Mahathir’s successor during MM1 more than 20 years ago. With the power he had, real or perceived, he put fear into members of the Umno he was then a part of. Everyone wanted to kiss his hand. Those who had something to say against him had to do so on the emergency staircase, away from prying eyes and ears!

Even his sacking from Umno and removal by Mahathir as his number two in the government in 1998 didn’t harm him one little bit. On the contrary the reformasi movement that took off immediately after helped to put him on a pedestal especially among the young and those contemptuous of Mahathir. All the public relations work he did in the preceding years won him many friends overseas, notably in America, and with the world’s press. This was one guy who could do no wrong, whatever the accusations the government had against him.

Anwar continued to remain relevant in the years after his release from jail the first time in 2004 for an offence for which he has been given a royal pardon together for a second similar offence later, it must be stated, but that second jail term took away much of the interest in him and the pull factor he always had with a big part of Malaysian society.

Then about three years ago Mahathir decided to be politically active again, leading the onslaught against a very unpopular government under Datuk Seri Najib Razak, which pushed Anwar further into the background although being the de facto PKR leader meant that they could totally ignore him.

This though is what Malaysian politics is all about.

Who would have thought five years ago that the Mahathir who was once very unpopular across all levels of society, despised by many for decisions seen as coming from a draconian MM1 government, is now accepted as the saviour, the man who could bring back the country to the right path?

If Anwar wins PD don’t take your eyes off the political goings-on at least for the next two years.




About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.