Can Anwar be the opposition leader Harapan needs? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Friday, May 08, 2020
Malaysiakini : “Anwar was definitely ‘crazy’
about becoming the prime minister. But he cannot be (PM) because, in
the past, he had so much support. But now, people support me and say,
please do not let him become (PM).” – Former two-time prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad
COMMENT | With the rather tame announcement by
Anwar Ibrahim that he is the opposition leader, the big question is,
will he continue to genuflect before the Malay political establishment –
which is different from the Malay base – that has rejected him since he
was cast out from the Umno paradise?
At this point, Anwar, the
beleaguered aspirant to the throne of Putrajaya, seems willing to
forgive anyone if it means getting closer to power. Anwar’s comments
about his willingness to accept Bersatu back in the fold if they accept
the “reform” agenda – whatever that means – should give Pakatan Harapan
supporters a pause. His statement about Azmin’s Ali’s treachery being nothing personal has destroyed whatever shred of credibility Anwar has left.
case people are confused about this, let me be very clear. The problem
with Azmin was never that he was ambitious or wanted to replace Anwar as
the head honcho of PKR or even that he wanted to be the next PM.
is politics and if Anwar could not even handle power grabs within his
own party, people should be sceptical of his skill set when it comes to
balancing party politics, coalition agendas, oppositional politics and
the vast bureaucracy if he came into power. If Azmin demonstrated
solidarity with his party when it came to issues affecting his party, it
would not make a difference if he had a sub rosa agenda against Anwar.
This is politics, after all. However, Azmin’s continued reliance on
outsiders to foment trouble and consolidate support and the eventual "Sheraton Move" was what destroyed Harapan.
claims that this is not about him, that he is “not the divine incarnate
of (some) sort (to be) designating my successor” is a good soundbite,
but if this were really the case, Anwar should fall on his sword and
make way for a younger group of leaders instead of acting coyly with the
very people who destroyed Harapan.
And this is really the problem, right? Anwar thinks that by claiming Azmin’s (above, left)
treachery was nothing personal, it makes him sound magnanimous but all
it does is make him sound egotistical. Azmin and his treacherous cohorts
not only betrayed PKR, they betrayed the Harapan base. Bersatu betrayed
the Harapan base but did not betray its small base.
is nothing wrong with having a big tent party. There is nothing wrong
with having diverse ideologies within a coalition. However, there must
be a common platform. Anwar’s going on about the “reform” agenda is
meaningless because, unlike what some folks say, Harapan had time to
implement, or at least attempt to implement, the reform agenda when they
were in power. But they chose not to. Instead, they prostrated
themselves before a potentate who was scheming in the shadows.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah trolled
netizens with his, "Are you confident that Harapan did not steal or
(were not involved in) corruption?” comment, the Harapan faithful were
up in arms with political operatives asking if Saifuddin had lodged a
report with the MACC.
But while economists, NGOs and
anti-corruption watchdogs were already raising the alarm about cronyism,
corruption and corporate and political malfeasances, they were brushed
aside and all the people seemed interested in was ensuring that “Najib”
did not come back to power.
Satees Muniandy, the state assemblyperson for Bagan Dalam and
international secretary for DAP Socialist Youth, while taking his shot
at Bersatu’s Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who earlier in his career pushed
conservative American values – the genuine ones, not the Trumpist horse
manure – wrote:
Saiful is now conveniently blaming vocal DAP leaders, namely Ronnie Liu
and P Ramasamy, for the collapse of the Harapan government when the
fact is that it was people like Muhyiddin (Yassin) and Azmin Ali who
caused the collapse with their treachery against the coalition and
Of course, Anwar knows that Chinese-baiting was exactly
the kind of politics that was acerbated when Bersatu joined Harapan. Of
course, it was disguised much better in the sense that the target of
these “yellow peril” narratives was blaming the Najib regime for cosying
up to the People's Republic of China. Even DAP political operatives
jumped on the bandwagon and were part of nativists' narratives that
further entrenched anti-Chinese narratives as mainstream Harapan dogma.
The old maverick has publicly stated - when he had that kumbaya (a
prayerful plea to God) moment with the DAP a couple of years back -
that it was the agenda of Umno to demonise the DAP because this is what
Malay politicians did after all. The anti-DAP – read Chinese –
propaganda was enabled by DAP’s political ineptness and their failure to
present a cohesive egalitarian and secular alternative.
DAP strategists and policy wonks would write about the real issue that
many in the Malay community have with the DAP and which is reflected in
the blogosphere and social media. The mainstream narrative is not
“Chinese hate” but rather the hypocrisy many Malays believe the DAP
This hypocrisy also extends to Anwar. You know why folks
like Mahathir always say that the Malays do not support Anwar? Part of
it is because he always seems more interested in genuflecting to folks
who have kicked him out; always attempting this "nice guy" act.
the Sheraton Move was a deep insecurity that Harapan, if left
unchecked, would lead to a new dawn in Malaysian politics where a strong
multiracial and secular-inclined coalition would supplant the
traditional feudal corrupt power structures. If Harapan was under the
stewardship of leaders who actually believed in their manifesto, this
would have been the death knell of race-based political parties in this
DAP and PKR have the most potential – so far unrealised –
which is why the establishment fears them. This is why we get partisans
pushing the narratives that the "Malays" will not change and the system
won't change and that it is Harapan which has to bend. Amanah could be
the dark horse, the truly progressive Islamic voice, but they are being
neutered by the far-right and agents of the fascist state.
politics is a tragic comedy. The tragedy is that the Malay political
establishment fears a ruthless, progressive Malay/Muslim leader who
subverts ideas of Malay privileges. Would anyone really complain if
important posts were filled with corrupt-free, competent “Malay”
technocrats, vernacular schools scrapped for a secular, egalitarian
education system, and the religious bureaucracy and its funding
redefined as class-based entitlement programmes under the aegis of
religion of the state benefice?
The comedy is that Anwar, apparently, fears that too.