I believe the reason for Aussie PM Kevin Rudd’s refusal to meet with Anwar Ibrahim has nothing to do with 'giving face' to AAB, as Anwar’s daughter had bravely attempted to dismiss it as such, in an interview with Malaysiakini.
Nurul Izzah said rather ungraciously: "... we do understand the intricacies of public diplomacy and that Rudd has to give face to Abdullah but it is unfortunate for all.”
"Nevertheless, come Sept 16, we will gladly accord them the proper decorum and if he wishes to pay a courtesy call to future opposition leader – Abdullah or deputy PM Najib Abdul Razak - we would be more than happy to assist", alluding of course to her father’s boast of seizing majority rule through massive defections of BN MPs to her party, PKR by 16 September 2008.
In fact Malaysiakini reported the Australian PM hails M'sia as 'vibrant democracy', where Rudd declared:
"... democracy is not just alive and well in Malaysia but flourishing."
"What has been great for us all to see in the councils of the world is the strength of Malaysia's democratic processes and the fact that these democratic processes have been tested and applied in recent elections."
I believe Rudd has been briefed by his diplomats here and back at home, where it’s quite difficult to criticise Malaysia after a general election which saw the ruling party lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament, five States to the opposition parties, and several ministers and party leaders now officially jobless.
Even silver-tongue Anwar Ibrahim would have difficulty convincing the world that the Malaysian general election in the main was not fair. In fact, the election results had caught many opposition (but now ruling parties in States) leaders by surprise, who obviously hadn't expected such 'fairness'.
This is not to say that Australian PM or ministers do not meet with opposition leaders of a foreign country because in Australian politics, the opposition is part of her Majesty’s government, known as ‘Her Majesty's loyal opposition’.
In Malaysia, alas, the opposition is always considered as ‘disloyal’ (to whom?) and to be treated as the ‘enemy’, who has been inconveniently allowed into Parliament by some stupid voters. Well, we certainly are a long way from a two-party system.
The first reason I can think of Rudd’s refusal to see Anwar is that the latter has no official status within the Malaysian parliamentary system.
her* his wife has, as the Opposition leader. I believe Kevin Rudd would be more inclined to meet Dr Azizah in her parliamentary role. But alas (again), no one proposed that, did they?
* a 'bitch' of an error, maybe a Freudian slip ;-), thanks to my blogging mate Susan Loone for spotting it
It must always be Anwar, isn't it ... where he even claimed ‘de facto’ leadership of PKR and in that insensitive assertion, consigned his wife, the party’s de jure president, into an embarrassing subordinate or subservient role.
Secondly, the Australian diplomats don’t suffer from what some Malaysian are experiencing, a blinkered view of the political situation.
These diplomats know that with a 58 seat majority the BN is the legitimate ruling party, which is how western democracies confirm their governments.
They don’t believe in nor support emotional undemocratic bullsh*t like “We can’t wait for another five years”, where those making that impatient demand, apart from insulting the supremacy of the ballot box (hmmm, manalah ‘ketuanan rakyat’?), forget conveniently that ‘waiting for another five years’ is precisely an institutionalised democratic process where voters make their choices through the ballot box. It’s called democracy.
Now, isn't such an undemocratic behaviour typically alike UMNO's, with the same mentality that's unable to comprehend the democratic process, and categorising the return of 140 BN MPs as those "who have been inconveniently allowed into Parliament by some stupid voters"?
"We cannot wait for another 5 years!" F*-frightening lah!
The emotional outburst shows that some so-called political 'reformers'(?) would be prepared to seize power through undemocratic process, not unlike the military in Thailand or Burma. We should be grateful that they aren’t in control of the military.
Thirdly, the Aussies know that Anwar Ibrahim has been attempting to destabilise the new BN government through a continuous propaganda of pending party defections by BN MPs and ‘various’ other means - tomorrow I'll provide my take on this.
Knowing the Aussies and their disgust for party hopping, I am not surprised that the diplomats would have advised Rudd to stay clear of Anwar.
Aussies don’t like party hoppers, as seen in the example of Cheryl Kernot who was punished severely even though she didn’t take her former party seat along with her when she moved across from the Social Democrats to the Labour Party.
Then there was Brendan Nelson, the current Liberal Party leader who is still being castigated today (from time to time) for almost similar tadpole-like behaviour because he switched from Labour to the conservative Liberal Party some 15 years ago on the advice of his AMA (Aus Medical Association) President and good friend, Bruce Shepherd. Mind you, Nelson was a Labour Party member in his teens because his dad Des, a strong union man had enrolled him in Labour.
It’s a wretched blow to Anwar Ibrahim, not so much because a PM of a western country had refused to see him, but more because that PM had seen through him.
You can’t claim to promote reformasi when you keep talking about seizing power through party defections of MPs.