Campaigning in Sarawak, PKR advisor, Anwar Ibrahim, warned his former BN colleagues not to think they can get away with personal attacks on him. He said at a PKR fund-raising dinner that he has the ammo (ammunition) to launch a counter-attack. He then gave a juicy example of his ammo, alleging that someone in PBB had once told him, when he was the DPM, that he (that ‘someone’) was eager to see Anwar replaced Dr Mahathir as PM.
Anwar claimed that PBB bloke said: “Anwar I will support you when you take over. When you lead the government, we have to change (Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul) Taib Mahmud’s men.”
He ‘played’ the dinner crowd as only he could, teasing them on whether they would like to know the identity of that person. Naturally they would, but also naturally, Anwar didn’t waste his ammo yet, because in the shadow play of Malaysian politics an unfired round is far more effective than an expended one.
If I have to make a wild guess, I would speculate that he was referring to Sarawak Deputy CM George Chan.
In my previous posting The Haunting of Anwar Ibrahim I mentioned that in the Sarawak election campaign, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah, Anwar’s spouse, had put herself and her husband in a highly vulnerable position when she raised the issue of petroleum royalty given to Sarawak.
Wan Azizah made an assertion that the people of Sarawak should not be paying more for petroleum products because the state produced the commodity. She claimed that since Sarawak was a large petroleum-producing state, it should be paid more than the five percent royalty it is now receiving. Wan Azizah was obviously exploiting the unpopular oil price hike to gain some mileage in her PKR campaign.
A riled George Chan seized on Wan Azizah’s statement to hit back at Anwar's past record as Finance Minister. Chan said words to the effect that it was rich of Wan Azizah to grandstand on the issue when it was Anwar, who then as Finance Minister had rejected Chan’s request for a bigger petroleum royalty for Sarawak.
Chan angrily stated: "When he (Anwar) was the finance minister, I myself asked for an increment in the petroleum royalty but he didn't give. Why is his party talking about it now?”
"I asked for more development for Sarawak because we don't have enough (development) and he also did not want to give (allocations). Why is PKR talking about it now? Why didn't he give us more when he was in power? Now he is no more in power, he can talk."
Because I am not a devoted PKR acolyte in blind adoration of Malaysia’s so-acclaimed political messiah I do have a few problems with Anwar Ibrahim’s warnings to his erstwhile colleague.
Firstly, did George Chan - assuming of course he was the intended target of Anwar Ibrahim’s warning - conduct a personal attack on Anwar in reminding everyone that Anwar had once dismissed the Sarawakian request for more oil royalty?
I would think not. Chan was pointing out to Dr Wan Azizah that she and her husband just couldn't conveniently perform a 180 degrees about-turn on the oil royalty issue when they happened to be in opposition - her husband, while in power as DPM and Finance Minister, had been the one rejecting Sarawak’s appeal for an increase in the oil royalty.
I believe Chan’s revelation was a legitimate political fight back, highlighting inconsistency in the Anwar Ibrahim’s camp on the issue of oil royalty for states, and not any personal attack on Anwar.
Secondly, Anwar's threat hasn't hidden the fact that Dr Wan Azizah has been wrong to instigate the Sarawakians on a matter her husband as Finance Minister saw fit to close. It was obvious here that Anwar Ibrahim found difficulty in countering Chan’s riposte on the PKR's double standard, because Anwar resorted to threats to reveal matters that was mentioned to him in confidence by an erstwhile colleague.
Now in that, Anwar has demonstrated that he himself is not above gutter politics, as was conducted by a Sarawakian newspaper against him which I blogged in Anwar Ibrahim's Transvestites Trauma.
It’s of course disappointing to see Anwar Ibrahim resorting to such personal gutter threats when he could have easily kept it at policy level, by saying he has changed his mind about the oil royalty, just as he had told the Chinese educationists he changed his mind on Chinese education since his fall from grace – not that I believe him at all, but at least one cannot fault him too much on that.
But on the other hand, perhaps Anwar couldn’t keep saying ‘he has changed his mind’ because, as mentioned in The Haunting of Anwar Ibrahim, he has far too much excess baggage, all tagged with the UMNO label.
Thirdly, if a Sarawakian did make those insidious remarks about a serving PM and his State CM to him the DPM, Anwar should have straightaway reprimanded that person for talking unethically behind those leaders’ backs, and having done so, should have consigned that matter to the scrap heap as a close file. It's too low level to even remember it, let alone bring it up again. Alternatively Anwar should have informed the PM and the Sarawak CM about the display of treacherous disloyalty.
Well, tell me, what did Anwar do then?
Instead he threatened to dip into the cesspool for a handful of sh*t to hurl at a political opponent.