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.

The Star Malaysia - - Focus - pgolin­gai@thes­tar.com.my Philip Golin­gai

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.

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