Saturday, October 07, 2006

Anwar Ibrahim - severing the UMNO umbilical cord?

Anwar Ibrahim believes that AAB will call for a election fairly soon – exactly when, he (Anwar) doesn’t know – but he reckons it'll be before April 2008.

Why that significant phase in time?

Anwar Ibrahim becomes eligible to participate actively in Malaysian politic s after April 2008, when his five-year ban from politics expires.

The ban was imposed following Anwar’s conviction for corruption and sodomy. Though the Federal Court overturned his sodomy conviction in 2004, after he had already spent six years in prison, Anwar remains affected by that 5-year ban for other (or whatever) legal reasons. Too technical for me!

Anwar believes AAB will set the election date to foil his (Anwar) intention to return to the main political stage.

But what is more interesting, at least to me personally, has been what Anwar said to his PKR members. During a buka puasa (breaking fast) function in his house, he chastised some of them for their old-UMNO mindset.

He said (apparently in frustration):
“They (PKR members) are trapped in the old mindset. Day in and day out they see the television and see the prime minister and deputy prime minister, like there are no others.”

“I still hear questions on whether we are in negotiations with Umno or not. They (PKR members) say it looks like if you are going to be prime minister, you need to be in Umno.”

Obviously Anwar was referring to those former UMNO blokes who left UMNO together with him when the former deputy president of the dominant Malay party was expelled.

One thing – it proves those ex-UMNO blokes still want to return to the powerful fold of UMNO.

This mentality or secret aspiration has been what I had criticised Anwar for, in more or less continuous fashion – that Anwar himself wanted to return to UMNO.

But does such an open criticism of his ex-UMNO colleagues, now in PKR clothing, signal his severance of the political umbilical cord from UMNO? Or is it one of those famous Malay shadow plays? Was it a warning signal to UMNO?

Or, has Anwar finally given up on ever returning to UMNO? Had he been influenced by the manner in which AAB’s UMNO has been treating Dr Mahathir? If that can happen to Mahathir, what hope would he then have?

I am one of Anwar Ibrahim’s severest critics, principally because of my perception he wants to return to UMNO. But if he has abandoned that hope, in sincerity and with finality (and rare is the politician, anywhere in the democratic world, who is sincere and totally committed), or at least with some finality then, perhaps it’s time to reconsider my support for him as a potential leader of a credible alternative Malaysian political party.

The sad reality is there is no other personality strong enough to take on the BN, other than Anwar Ibrahim, provided of course Anwar gets the support of the Malaysian silent majority, the fence seaters.

Much as the Western world, PKR or he himself like to portray his popularity, the reality is he won’t get very far without Malaysians seeing him as a reborn politician, divorced in complete perpetuity from UMNO.

We don’t expect him to be perfect as a saint, because frankly no politician can ever be. What we need is a person committed to a strong alternative political option. It doesn’t matter whether this alternative party can gain powers to form the government or to function as an effective opposition. What we don't want is a captain who'll abandon ship mid-course to jump on to another ship, the current luxury cruiser.

Unfortunately Lim Kit Siang or his DAP party do not have the Malay support which is crucial to a party making any political significance. What we know of Lim and the DAP, despite their shorcomings, is their consistency and commitment to a more democratic political system.

Unfortunately PAS, being religious in nature and committed to a theocratic political system, won’t have the majority of the non-Muslims’ support. They certainly have the potential to harness significant Malay support.

Anwar Ibrahim still possesses some remnants of his charisma and his Malay-ness to summon a credible political presence if the non-Malays and a significant segment of the Malays support him. He can fill the void between the DAP and PAS. He is acceptable to DAP, but will PAS accept him if he projects a secular credential (crucial to winning DAP and non-Malay support)?

I said that perhaps it’s time to reconsider my support for him, but ;-) let’s wait and see.

1 comment:

  1. hmmm... i am not convinced that the ex-dep has changed his stripes. ouwardly he might have but deep down he is still a politician, biding his time for power and we know power corrupts, especially malaysians. i had high hopes for our pm aab, boy am i wrong when he came into power... power corrupts or is it greed corrupts or what?


    i am uneasy about is his militant islamic stand (still), his history of educational policy blunders and plunders. is he an accident waiting to happen when he does get into power again?