Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Bridge Too Far - Anwar Ibrahim

Like what the British army paratrooper at Arnhem did during WWII, Anwar Ibrahim has dropped himself into the fray.

He blamed the whole fiasco on – guess who? – surprise, surprise, none other than Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Yes sir, according to Anwar, Mahathir has only himself to blame for his pet project being scrapped.

Anwar claimed he had been privy to information in the early stages of the project, and declared that Mahathir made his first blunder when he sent former finance minister Daim Zainudin to negotiate with former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew over the terms of the project.

He advised:
“I would grant the criticism of many that negotiations with Singapore are not always easy. The solution therefore is to send competent people to negotiate. If you send semi-literates to negotiate, we will lose out in the negotiations.”

my underlining and bolding above

That’s reason No 1 – Daim Zainuddin, according to Anwar Ibrahim – was a semi-literate. That’s stupid sending semi-literate to negotiate with an intellectual like Lee Kuan Yew. Anwar said Mahathir should have sent a more competent negotiator since talks with Singapore could be tough. Yes, it ought to be another intellectual.

Anwar also said:
“I think it is unfortunate and dangerous for Dr Mahathir to proceed with this sort of rancour and criticism. If the issue is explained, he committed the first blunder by assigning Daim to negotiate for Malaysia without first referring to the cabinet and without (creating) records in the treasury.”

Anwar didn’t let PM Abdullah Badawi get away blameless because he believed that the PM had made his decision rather too late, when the project was already at a critical stage of implementation.

He added wisely:
“The problem is compounded because of the way this country is being managed under Abdullah. I mean you should have done your homework and should not allow for this matter to drag on so long.”

Naughty AAB, not doing his homework.

Hmmm, unless of course, Abdullah was persuaded to abandon it after the Singapore government strangely proved obdurate despite former PM Goh Chok Tong already agreeing to Mahathir’s bridge construction. As I said before, who has been close enough to Singapore to provide advice to resist?

However, Anwar added a sweetener for PM AAB by expressing full support for the latter’s decision to abandon the project, as a commendable decision.

He crooned gently:
“It takes a lot of courage and wisdom ... after weeks of massive campaigns against Singapore ... (for Abdullah) to suddenly say that the decision (to build the bridge) was faulty and that we have to scrap the’s commendable.”

“I support the decision taken by Abdullah because any responsible leader cannot proceed with a project affecting another country without that sort of arrangement being made.”

“Even if it’s not related to relations between Malaysia and Singapore, you cannot imagine in this modern time any country wanting to undertake a major project - a bridge, highway, whatever - affecting another country, unilaterally. We have condemned the United States for its unilateral decision to invade Iraq, so we can’t seriously proceed in such manner (ourselves).”

So Anwar considers building the scenic bridge, already agreed to by the former Singapore's PM, as equivalent to the US invasion of Iraq? Gee, we are so fortunate to have him advise us of the parallel situations. We wouldn't have thought of that.

He continued:
“Why would we want to build a half-bridge to nowhere? So that we can take the bridge and make a U-turn to come back?”

“For those who want to have half a bridge - some are multi-billionaires themselves - can go ahead to build the bridge but not at the people’s - the taxpayers’ - expense.”

What a marvellous sensible bloke – we should have him as our PM, though we found him strangely silent on the bridge matters when he claimed he had been privy to information in the early stages of the project.

But when negotiating with Singapore – forget about the fact that Goh Chok Tong had already agreed to Mahathir’s negotiation, which are just bloody inconvenient facts that everyone except for Matthias Chang is keeping very quiet about – Anwar believes there is one very competent person on issues of cross-straits ties including a vast repository of financial know-how who can manage the tricky sticky negotiations. Yes, indeed, we are ever grateful for his recommendation, and who, pray may we ask, is that highly competent person that Anwar has put forward?


Yes, Anwar has offered assistance to the government, saying he could draw from his experience in the government, including as finance minister between 1993 and 1998. That’s a fantastic CV, man.

continued: “I would not discount any possible meeting with Abdullah if he were to ask my views on the issues ... like the negotiations with Singapore on the bridge and even information on the negotiations with Indonesia on border issues.”

[Pssst! See my earlier posting
Khairy's wagon hitched to Anwar's star?

Wow, his offer has not been for Singapore but Indonesia as well. But I thought the bridge matter was already over, but what the hell do I know? (other than Goh Chok Tong's letters which could be shown to the Singapore government, assuming it doesn't have copies in its PM's office files).

Mind you, Anwar assured us his offer does not imply a wish to rejoin UMNO - of course not! Everyone knows the UMNO-led government always get outsiders to negotiate with foreign governments on its behalf. Anwar said he has already decided against rejoining UMNO. Yes sir, and I hope PKR people can relax with his assurance of fidelity.

And he explained his motive for offering himself to AAB:
“I will not be serving the government. But I am a Malaysian and very loyal to the country and will do my best to serve.”

Thank you Datuk Seri.

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