A commentary by Zaidi Azmi
July 12, 2019
MANY Malaysians, by now, would have realised that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is quite the colorful and populist politician – one capable of pulling all manner of eyebrow-raising feats so much so that he practically elevated the phrase ‘playing to the gallery’ to a whole new level.
For example, he can deliver religious sermons when he needed to touch base with his Muslim supporters and can whip out some serious dance moves to the tune of a hit Tamil song while literally cracking a whip to garner support from his Indian fans.
Heck, he’s probably the only politician in the country to have his own TV show – that ended in December last year.
And in almost any issue that he chose to partake Anwar’s position will usually lean towards the side that portrays him as the defender of the downtrodden.
Like a knight in shining armor, to be precise.
The most recent case of him doing so was Anwar telling the public that he will talk to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the one year jail sentence by the High Court to a convicted hatemonger.
“It’s too harsh and does not reflect the new sentiment in the country. I will discuss this with Dr Mahathir,” said Anwar over Pakatan Harapan-friendly Muslim preacher Wan Ji Wan Husin’s punishment which was initially a nine-month jail term.
Why did Anwar make it sound like he intended to get someone from the executive branch to meddle with the decision made by the country’s judiciary? Whatever happened to the separation of powers?
Also, what can Dr Mahathir legally do? Surely Anwar knows that Dr Mahathir cannot pardon Wan Ji’s crime, right? As it is, the only go about saving Wan Ji is to have the Court of Appeals overturn his verdict, which he did so today.
Or, the government could repeal the Sedition Act and make the abolishment of the law have a retrospective effect so that those who are currently serving sentences under the act, like Wan Ji, will have their criminality essentially erased.
While Anwar is free to defend anyone whom he believes is unjustly persecuted, should he do so or be seen as doing so in the case of Wan Ji?
Bear in mind according to Wan Ji’s case facts, he explicitly described the Sultan of Selangor as the devil, a pharaoh and that the latter was stupid. Not only that, he also wrote this in his damning Facebook post: “buang je sultan2 ni. Perabis duit rakyat” (just get rid of these sultans. They’re a waste of public money).
Seriously, if that wasn’t one heck of a seditious hate speech then one can only wonder, what was it? Also, why Anwar wanted to be seen as a protector of a hatemonger who called for the toppling of Malaysia’s monarch is anybody’s guess.
“Anyone who calls our Sultan stupid, a pharoah and the devil who must be toppled defnitely incites hatred and has crossed the red line. They must be punished and made an example of so that it will not happen again,” wrote Laywer Lukman Sheriff on Facebook.
Again, Anwar is free to fight for Wan Ji or whoever he wants but honestly, the colourful words that Wan Jin had used in his controversial post seemed to suggest that he had it coming.
And since he has pretty much made his bed, Wan Ji ought to have the decency to sleep in it.