January 31, 2019.
FOR someone who has no position in the government, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sure has been having quite a hectic diplomatic schedule, one resembling that of an artiste’s concert tours, except that his is probably less euphoric.
Since his release from prison in May last year, following a pardon from the King, Anwar, Malaysia’s poster child for political prisoners, has gone to Indonesia, Britain, Turkey, Hong Kong, China, the Philippines and most recently, India.
And often times, these trips involved Anwar meeting head of states or government officials, which is hardly surprising as he is most probably Malaysia’s next prime minister.
But apparently, though not at all surprising, these meetings mostly ended-up with him sounding like an unofficial spokesperson for the Malaysian government, with him nosing into bilateral matters that do not quite concern him, at least for now.
In London last June he declared that the Malaysian government would investigate the Battersea Power Station deal because, according to him, it was a dubious investment brokered by the previous administration.
“There was no attempt by British authorities to investigate. But this was a crime using sovereign wealth funds for reckless spending sprees. I am seeking support from the British government and from the foreign secretary (Boris Johnson),” was Anwar’s stern remark to the British government.
Oddly enough, despite Anwar’s status as the PM-in-waiting, both the British government and Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad have until today kept mum on Anwar’s call.
When he was in Hong Kong last September, Anwar pulled a similar stunt, this time asking the Chinese government not to take offence to Mahathir’s announcement to scrap several high-profile, China-backed projects after the latter did so during his visit to China the month before.
In December, Anwar took things up a notch, which resulted in a social media storm, when he met and discussed the Malaysia-Philippines defence and security policies with President Rodrigo Duterte.
The then twitter tirade against Anwar was understandable as the latter, regardless of his future status, had no right to take part in matters involving Malaysia’s defence. He is only an MP.
In his defence, Anwar claimed that Duterte was the one who invited him but he however did not answer his critics’ burning question: “Why would Duterte want to discuss those matters with you when he had already met Mahathir in July?”
Such a blowback however, does not seem to bother him one bit, as early this month Anwar went on a five-day visit to India to — you’ve guessed it — meet with government and business leaders.
Anwar met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and remarked to the latter that he will do something about the detention of Indian illegal immigrants in Malaysia.
On his meeting with Modi, Anwar said this: “I have discussed with Modi on how to continue to enhance the two countries’ relationship.”
While it may do him some good to pre-emptively foster good rapport with world leaders, common sense dictates that unless Anwar is the PM, these world leaders will likely take his words with a pinch of salt.
Even more so, there have been signals indicating that his succession plan due next year may not be smooth sailing, especially after Mahathir’s “I-will-work-till-I-drop’ remark and Anwar’s deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s blatant show of support for Mahathir.
“PM @chedetofficial (Mahathir) has vowed to continue on working for his country until his last breath. Thank God, keep up your good work Tun (Mahathir).
“Thank you Malaysians for convincing me that Tun is the best choice to lead the country,” read Azmin’s controversial tweet that had fuelled talk on how things will probably be more dramatic from now.