Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Anwar recognised as ‘Great Sukarno’ on UNGA stage – Andi Suwirta

Anwar recognised as ‘Great Sukarno’ on UNGA stage – Andi Suwirta

PM’s oratory prowess, tempered approach elevate Malaysia’s standing

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is realising a democracy centred on the Madani community, while the opposition is given space to freely express, even though they may carry a shrill and insulting voice, writes Andi Suwirta. – Anwar Ibrahim Facebook pic, September 26, 2023

THE writer is intrigued by a column by Belalang Jalan Riong titled Don’t compare Anwar’s abilities with those of other prime ministers at UNGA, published in Berita Harian on Sunday.

The writeup refers to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s first appearance as prime minister at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York last Friday.

The theme of the UNGA’s General Debate this year was Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and the sustainability for all.

In this context, the effort to draw comparisons on Anwar is important not only in terms of the country’s past but also from the perspective of the concept of space or the vicinity of the region, specifically in the leaderships of the neighbouring countries, especially Indonesia.

As it is known, from a historical viewpoint, Sukarno, Indonesia’s late president, is recognised and widely accepted as a great orator who was not only able to speak in Indonesian, but was also eloquent in English and Dutch.

For example, we can look back to September 30, 1960 when Sukarno gave a speech at the UNGA with the title To build the world anew.

The content and recommendations of the Indonesian president’s speech called for the UN to be overhauled, given that the world had changed, following the birth of many new countries after independence from colonial powers in the 1950s and 1960s.

However, Sukarno’s proposal was rejected by the UN, especially the Western countries that previously won World War II between 1939 and 1945.

It was for this reason that the country announced its withdrawal from the world body in January 1965.

The decision was also related to the regional political situation, namely Indonesia’s confrontation with Malaysia between 1963 and 1966.

Anyway, after having scrutinised Anwar’s speech, in delivering the national statement, there is no denying that the Malaysian prime minister’s address was more powerful than Sukarno’s. Anwar is fluent in Malay, and very much so in English.

The content and proposals of Anwar’s speech did not go so far as to want the UN to be overhauled as expressed by Sukarno, but he did raise important global issues that need to be addressed by the world community such as worsening Islamophobia and the endless Palestinian problem.

He also touched on the concept of universal justice and its implementation in the unity government, and the Malaysia Madani agenda he initiated, which gives priority to transparency and anti-corruption in Malaysia.

Consistent in mission, vision of struggle

It cannot be denied that Anwar’s speech is actually consistent with the mission and vision of his struggles from the days when he was a student and youth up till now.

We need to emphasise that Anwar is a figure who wants Islam to be inclusive and “rahmatan lil alamin” (providing grace to all), thus not only in line with the needs of modern times but also in line with the democratic life of a nation state.

It should also be emphasised that the difference is that Sukarno’s government used to practise guided democracy – a system of government and state which, in fact, had no democracy because everything was led and controlled by the president.

On the other hand, Anwar is realising a democracy centred on the Madani community, while the opposition is given space to freely express, even though they may carry a shrill and insulting voice.

There was a time in the 1990s when the then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was labelled by many Indonesians as “Little Sukarno”, following his vociferousness in attacking the hegemony of Western powers as neocolonialism and imperialism.

Thus, now in 2023, many Indonesians are saying that Anwar is the “Great Sukarno”.

In other words, Anwar is greater than Sukarno, the first president to lead Indonesia between 1945 and 1968.

As soon as I had watched the video of the speech by Anwar, who is also popularly known as “PMX” (the 10th prime minister), on YouTube, I sent a message to a WhatsApp group with many lecturers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines, and insisted that this is the figure of a Southeast Asian leader – even a great leader of the Muslim world.

Where was there a Malaysian prime minister before this who, when giving a speech, was so eloquent in quoting holy verses from the Quran?

Only the leaders of Indonesia, the majority of whose population is Muslim – the largest in the world – from the past until now, have been able to begin their speeches with “Assalamualaikum” (peace be upon you).

Furthermore, Anwar is a Malaysian prime minister who can deliver a sermon during Friday prayers in front of the New York Muslim community.

When compared, whether with the previous Malaysian PM or with Muslim leaders from other countries, it is clear that Anwar is an exceptional and rare leader among the world’s Muslim community.

As a result, Malaysians, and also those in Indonesia and the Southeast Asian region, should be proud and excited about Anwar’s leadership as “PMX” of Malaysia.

In fact, be assured that Malaysia has now become a “Big Brother”, or at least reached “the same age” such that it is no longer a “little sister” to Indonesia. – The Vibes, September 26, 2023

Andi Suwirta is a senior lecturer at the History Education Department at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia.

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