A giant leap ahead
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has taken a small step towards Parliament, but his journey from MP to PM could still be rocky and slippery.
NOW that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is an MP, what’s next for him?
After winning the Port Dickson by-election, Anwar will concentrate on reforming Parliament, said Universiti Utara Malaysia political lecturer Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani. Anwar had announced when he became an MP, he has an agenda of reform and renewal in Parliament, he said.
It is clear, according to a close friend of Anwar, that the Port Dickson MP will focus his energy on parliamentary reforms to essentially empower it and return it to its supremacy.
“I believe Anwar will return power to Parliament so that it will be a check and balance to the executive,” said the businessman who did not want to be identified.
He also said that Anwar would focus on making the life of his new constituents better. There are lots of potential for developing Port Dickson. For example, bringing in the manufacturing industry.
How about the big job – Prime Minister of Malaysia?
“I don’t think he straight away wants to become Prime Minister as Tun has already mentioned that he will retire in 2020 at the age of 95. Meaning Anwar has about one year and a half to prepare himself to be Prime Minister,” said Dr Mohd Azizuddin, referring to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“When he campaigned in Port Dickson for Anwar, Dr Mahathir has shown – even though he did not explicitly say it in his speech – that he endorsed Anwar to be PM.”
Anwar, according to his close friend, had made it clear that as far as he was concerned, he would become Prime Minister when Dr Mahathir passed the baton after he has completed the changes he wants to make, the governmental reforms that he wants to make and fix what he believes needs to be fixed.
However, there are detractors out there who believe that Anwar was a man in a hurry.
They believe that the Prime Minister-designate, after becoming an MP, will manoeuvre to be the Prime Minister.
“Anwar is forcing the Port Dickson by-election because he wants to be in Parliament in the next session when the budget is presented.
“And as an MP he can be PM as soon as possible,” said a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) politician.
This is nonsense that is being spun by blogs and detractors, said Anwar’s close friend.
“Anwar has made it clear. I don’t know how much more you want him to say? He has said that he is not in a hurry. He wants to focus on parliamentary reforms,” he said.
He said he knew that there was a big push from Anwar’s supporters and detractors.
“Some supporters want him to be in a rush to be PM and his detractors are saying that he is in a rush to be PM,” he said.
That is politics, he said, where you have both ends of the spectrum.
“Anwar is not in a rush to be PM,” he reiterated.
“But he is in a rush to make a difference, in a rush to do good. He is in a rush because he has been in jail for a total of 11 years,” he said.
The perception that Anwar was a man in a hurry, said Dr Mohd Azizuddin, is because he moved – politically – very quickly.
Anwar got a pardon from the Agong, got himself released from prison, contested for PKR president and won uncontested and he contested in the Port Dickson by-election.
Even in the Port Dickson by-election campaigning, Dr Mohd Azizuddin observed that there were placards on Anwar becoming the eight Prime Minister of Malaysia.
People see these moves as him been too eager to be PM, he said. “But I think he moved fast for him to prepare to be PM,” he said.
Anwar, said the PPBM politician who knows the Prime Ministerdesignate when both were in Umno, has always been in a hurry.
“Anybody in a hurry is bound to step on a pebble and fall. Anwar has been falling (since he was deputy Prime Minister in 1998) as he was rushing,” he said.
On the potential pebble that could trip Anwar’s Prime Minister’s ambition, Dr Mohd Azizuddin said there were many.
“For example, there might be infighting in the PH coalition. Or suddenly Barisan Nasional manage to mobilise itself and split Pakatan. In politics, sometimes we can’t predict that things will go smoothly,” he said.
Anwar, Dr Mohd Azizuddin said, has a good chance of succeeding Dr Mahathir if he doesn’t misbehave like he did when he challenged Dr Mahathir in 1998.
He was referring to the fallout between Umno President Dr Mahathir and deputy Umno President Anwar in 1998 when Dr Mahathir sacked him as Deputy Prime Minister.
“Obstacles to be PM?” said his close friend sarcastically.
“Apart from his detractors who non-stop, left, right and centre questioning that his parking tickets were not paid when he was in jail and that he used the word, ‘super liberal’, there are many banana peels in politics.”
However, the businessman was confident Anwar could win over his detractors.
“The people are not given a chance to know him. The person you see is the urban legend of Abim and Malay nationalist of his younger years,” he said.
“So, they don’t know this Anwar Ibrahim. This is a man who went to jail for a collective 11 years. He has changed. And if people are willing to forgive Tun Mahathir, they should also be able to forgive Anwar.”
There have been fake messages about a sodomy case that an Indonesian had lodged a police report in Singapore against Anwar. There are talks that there will be Sodomy 3.
The sodomy rumours are attacks from people in business or civil society who fear that they would become irrelevant when the PKR president-elect becomes Prime Minister, said Anwar’s close friend.
“They are worried that the old Malaysia style of access (to the Prime Minister) will be affected,” he said.
Dr Mohd Azizuddin said Sodomy 3 was not possible.
“Nobody now believes it if it happens. I don’t think we will have another case,” he said.
The moment Anwar enters Parliament as an MP, a PKR politician predicts, there will be a recalibration of the political equation in the country.
“When they see him (as an MP) in Parliament, it is game over. Anwar will be the leader of the largest political party in Parliament,” he said.
“You will suddenly see some (not friendly to Anwar) politicians changing their positioning. They will start to be friendlier to Anwar.
“Do you really want to make Anwar your enemy?
“Are you sure you can kick him out (as potential PM)?” he said.
Anwar’s path from MP to PM will be strewn with banana peels.