Has Anwar Ibrahim run out of steam? Lately I notice he seems somewhat subdued and lacks his usual fiery persona.
Yes, the once-charismatic politician has been reduced to commenting on Proton’s future, and then, all he could say was some motherhood statements. Virtually everyone knows that for Proton to enhance its technological capability and marketing it needs an experienced and strong foreign partner to support it in quality control, research and development and competitiveness. One doesn’t have to be Anwar Ibrahim to know that.
And his call for an independent Commission of Inquiry on the Metramac affair has been pretty 'ordinary' and uninspiring. His bandwagon comments on contemporary issues seem to be obligatory rather than of ground breaking quality. Many have been disappointed to see him like so when they expected more from him. Perhaps their expectations have been too high?
Or is it just that they don’t find him politically that attractive anymore? His performance as one of Malaysia’s most powerful ‘persuader’ with his legendary oratorial skills had clearly made no impression on the voters of Pengkalan Pasir. In his campaign for Malaysia's Islamist Party, PAS, Anwar might have attracted the crowd there but not the votes. One gathers that the people of Pengkalan Pasir had just congregated to hear him more out of curiosity rather than political conviction.
Could it be that his clarion call for political reformation has lost its lustre because, after his release from prison and his return from medical treatment in Germany, he was perceived to be playing coy with UMNO? That would have infuriated many of his reformasi supporters [not those who left UMNO with him].
Those supporters had been dreaming of the political nirvana that would follow the reformation revival he was expected to ignite after his release from prison. In fact they had campaigned so ardently for his release. A perception that he might have wanted to return to UMNO would undoubtedly be the ultimate betrayal to the reformasi acolytes.
Could it be that his erstwhile supporters saw in his hesitation to politically commit himself as deft evasions to keep his options open? Did that perception congeal as he seemingly released his post-incarceration policies in a fashion like slow-release fertiliser pellets, as if to incrementally pressure a very silent and unresponsive UMNO into re-admitting him? Was he sending a message to his erstwhile compatriots in UMNO that they would be safer with him inside rather than outside? Perhaps even his campaigning for PAS in the recent by-election was viewed as one such tactic?
Would we be far off the mark if we speculate that all these perceptions would have greatly troubled his reformasi supporters? Could those niggling perceptions somehow remind them of his UMNO past? That, they recollected he left UMNO not willingly as a true reformer but rather as someone who fell on his political sword? That, he was one who was unwillingly and unhappily expelled? And that, in the final analysis, he is still an UMNO man at heart, wanting to return to the fold of political power? Would that have led them to review his call then for reformasi was nothing more than spiteful retaliation against his former colleagues, the expression of a sour grape? That, Hell hath no fury ........ ?
Or perhaps, his supernova popularity after his acrimonious expulsion from UMNO was in reality a pseudo-impression, a mirage of hope created by the illusory refraction from public abhorrence of Mahathir's reign? Was it then a case of rabid anti-Mahathirism rather than enthusiatic pro-Anwarism? And that, with Mahathir’s departure from the seat of power, the catalyst for favouring him has also been removed?
Or has his lack-lustre performance been due to his emotional weariness as he came to grips with realisation that his opponents have effectively shut him out from UMNO, away from meaningful political resurrection, marooned forever in a political wilderness like a Ku Li. If such has been his own realistic assessment, how could he ever realise then the expected triumphant and sweet return to the topmost echelon of power?
Anwar Ibrahim, post-incarceration, a rejected and dejected political messiah?
What a contrast between now and the scene at his house immediately after he was released from prison, where he majestically held court among fawning lieutenants, the very epicentre of power, jealously and zealously protected by his invigorated royal praetorian guards and his adoring supporters, and with none other than the Prime Minister's son-in-law, as an envoy from a subordinate State, paying him due homage [purportedly to hand-deliver a passport].
To paraphrase 2 Samuel 1:25,
"How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Anwar, thou wast [politically] slain in thine high places."