We shall start off with this pantun;
“Angkut angkut terbang ke langit,
sampai di langit dimakan merbah,
biar bertangkup bumi dan langit,
setia hamba tidak berubah.”
Those were the words of an Umno Deputy President during an Umno General Assembly in the not too distant past. During the good old days some would have reckoned. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim verbalized his undivided loyalty towards his mentor, Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad by reciting this pantun at the end of the Umno General Assembly in 1996. The affection being shown at that time by the PM towards his successor was for all to see. Only the most clairvoyant among us can predict what could have been unfold in the next two years after the pantun was recited and immortalized in the annals of Umno history.
This fiery pantun, which embodied an absolute and undying loyalty of a man towards his President no matter what may come, had been truly forgotten by Anwar Ibrahim as he became the fiercest critic to the very same person he held in very high regard several years ago.
In 1996, Anwar was seen as Umno’s heir apparent to Dr Mahathir. Now, in 2008, Anwar is still perceived as heir apparent and prime minister in waiting to the current PM albeit from another political party. Who is Anwar Ibrahim? How did he came about to be what he is today? A political reformer? The people’s saviour? An opportunist? A power hungry extremist?
In order to know a person, we need to know his character, his current idealogy, his belief system, his principles or as some may say it, his ‘centre of being’. We study this, and then we reflect on all his actions through the years we’ve known him during the height of his power, and only then we can gauge what kind of a man he is. As what Abraham Lincoln once said – “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”.
Read the above pantun again. Has the earth and the sky flipped over each other?
From his May 2007 interview in BBC’s Hardtalk, we delve into the man which some touted as the next best thing in Malaysia.
The issue which was relentlessly hammered on to Anwar towards the end of the interview was his integrity and credibility in leading the fight against the blatant corruption within the Malaysian Government. As the interviewer pointed out, he was in the system itself for nearly 2 decades and did not do anything about it. Although Anwar insisted he fought against the tide, it were only in the forms of words. No actions were done by him. In fact, his tenure as the Finance Minister from 1991 to 1998 was best remembered by his subtle manouevring in forcing Dr Mahathir to resign as Prime Minister in the Umno General Assembly in 1998.
His message was conveyed in the form of his trusted lieutenant, Datuk Zahid Hamidi, the Umno Youth Chief at the time. Alleging that cronyism and nepotism were prevalent within the Umno top hierarchy, and insinuating to the Umno members that Dr Mahathir had too many cronies, it was time Dr Mahathir to pass on the mantle of power to a cleaner leader. However, the plan backfired. We can read to remember about this revelation in Business Times ( 23 June 1998 );
DATUK Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Umno Youth chief, caused more than a bit of a stir when he spoke of `nepotisma and kronisma’ at the Youth assembly last Thursday, forcing the ensuing three-day Umno general assembly to debate issues associated with these alien terms openly.
The party found itself on the defensive because, as a member of the Umno supreme council, there were questions as to whether Zahid had raised the issues at its meetings chaired by the party president. It led to several significant things happening during the assembly.
It prompted the Government to issue several lists of names of so-called “Government cronies” who had been awarded shares or privatization projects. They included the Prime Minister’s son, the Deputy Prime Minister’s father and brother, Cabinet ministers and members of parliament, aside from hundreds of other names of “ordinary” Malays and Bumiputeras. Even Zahid’s name was in one of the lists.
The finality of the findings destroyed Anwar’s reputation as the leading reformer of clean governance as more evidence of his excesses were exposed that year. One such excesses was the purported loss of billions of ringgit in currency hedging by Bank Negara Malaysia. In January 1998, Dr Mahathir had already toying with the idea of capital controls but was shot down by Anwar. He favours the more risky currency trading. As the result, when the ringgit devalued further that month, he directed BNM to intervene;
KUALA LUMPUR 5 Jan. – Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim berkata, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) dibenarkan untuk campur tangan dalam pasaran tukaran wang asing bagi memastikan nilai ringgit dapat distabilkan.
Anwar yang mengulas mengenai kejatuhan ringgit hari ini yang mencapai paras terendahnya 4.0550/50 berbanding dolar Amerika, menegaskan BNM boleh campur tangan sekiranya keadaan itu sangat diperlukan.
Dalam hubungan ini Anwar menegaskan, kejatuhan ringgit sebenarnya disebabkan oleh beberapa faktor serantau seperti nilai baht, peso, rupiah dan won (Korea Selatan).
Please note that he stated the ringgit value fell due to external factors. Not due to Dr Mahathir’s fault as he had always screamed after he was sacked from the cabinet. Two days after making the statement above, the BNM used billions of ringgit to stop the further slide as stated in the report below;
KUALA LUMPUR 7 Jan. – Ringgit menjunam ke paras paling rendah terbaru pada 4.8800 berbanding dolar Amerika sehingga terpaksa dipulihkan hari ini melalui campur tangan Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).
Timbalan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, dalam satu kenyataan petang ini berkata, ”operasi-operasi campur tangan” telah dijalankan untuk memastikan keadaan stabil bagi membolehkan pasaran tukaran asing berjalan dengan cekap.
In the end, BNM lost billions as the ringgit sank further. Some speculated the loss reached up to RM30 billion ringgit, similar to the loss he was accountable in 1993. Obviously, Dr Mahathir was furious. Anwar’s mistake was intolerable. But his next action in the coming weeks was even more unforgivable by Dr Mahathir. Anwar had invited the IMF to ‘help’ Malaysia’s ailing economy and the recent loss of wealth.
KUALA LUMPUR 9 Jan. – Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim telah mengundang Pengarah Urusan Dana Kewangan Antarabangsa (IMF), Michel Camdessus melawat negara ini minggu depan bagi membincangkan masalah ekonomi yang sedang melanda rantau ini.
”Dari situ kita dapat melihat pandangannya serta langkah-langkah proaktif yang sesuai untuk kita ambil,” kata beliau pada sidang akhbar selepas mempengerusikan Mesyuarat Majlis Kewangan Negara 1998 di Kementerian Kewangan hari ini.
As the result of IMF’s prescription, the economy and people’s purchasing power broke down. The IMF encouraged the Minister of Finance to lift the prices of controlled food items and increase the banking interest rates. Dr Mahathir was wary with the IMF’s prescription. The people in our neighbouring countries Indonesia and Thailand were already rioting due to the expensive cost of living.
KUALA LUMPUR 19 Jan. – Malaysia akan mengkaji cadangan Dana Kewangan Antarabangsa (IMF) supaya kadar faedah tempatan dinaikkan, kata Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad hari ini.
Cadangan itu dikemukakan oleh Pengarah Urusan IMF, Michel Camdessus selepas menemui Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim serta pegawai-pegawai Perbendaharaan dan Bank Negara di sini minggu lepas.
But Anwar was adamant. He needed the people to riot on the streets. President Soehatro was already shaky. A new leader was needed to take over this country. He was going to blackmail Malaysia to become the next prime minister through the use of the destructive IMF treatment. In the end, the interest rates were increased. Some was as high as 18%. The non performing loan criteria was shortened from 6 months to 3 months. As the result, the credit crunch in the country was inevitable. By May 1998, President Soeharto resigned. But Indonesia sank further in oblivion for many years after that.
“The leader whom had unified Indonesia as the biggest Muslim country in the world, was brought down by new type of colonialism”
Seeing Anwar was unable to lift Malaysia from the currency crisis, Dr Mahathir appointed the more able Tun Daim Zainuddin as the Minister of Special Functions to help alleviate the Malaysian economy. Anwar was sidelined due to his culpability in managing the country finances. To illustrate this point into perspective, a CFO of a company must surely be sacked if he runs the company to the ground with his reckless methods. That was what happened to Anwar Ibrahim. But Dr Mahathir was still magnanimous in his actions. He was willing to forgive and forget if Anwar would simply lay low for a little while. But matters were not easily understood by Anwar.
Compounded further was the allegations in a DAP convention by Karpal Singh and poison pen letters in the Umno General Assembly that Anwar Ibrahim was a homosexual. Karpal had even asked Dr Mahathir why is he keeping such minister in the cabinet. Dr Mahathir brushed aside these allegations initially.
As a desperate act, Anwar employed a machiavellian tactic by using Zahid Hamidi as a tool to incite hatred towards Dr Mahathir in the Umno General Assembly in June 1998. The rest as they say, is history.
In the recent interview with BBC HardTalk, Dr Mahathir mentioned that Anwar was blackmailing VK Lingam via the secret recordings made in 2001. The allegations of fixing the appointment of top judges in the country is not relevant to me. What is more telling was the act of blackmailing VK Lingam itself. The one that was taking the recording was non other than Loh Gwo Burne.
This political greenhorn, who is still learning to speak proper Bahasa Malaysia, became the MP of Kelana Jaya under the PKR ticket in 2008 general election. Although Gwo Burne stated that he recorded the conversation out of boredom, it was a full 14 minutes recording nevertheless. He could test his new found camera at the time to record everything else, but he chose to record VK Lingam’s conversation non stop for the whole 14 minutes. Furthermore, what astonished me was the fact that Anwar kept the original copy all this while. How did he get the copy? From Gwo Burne himself no doubt.
Now, Gwo Burne is offering his seat for Anwar to contest in the possible by-election. That whole event was suspiciously conspired by Anwar. If blackmailing is Anwar’s modus operandi in obtaining power and gaining political mileage, we will see another round of surrendering our sovereignty to foreign powers.
“Picture says a thousand words”
When he was inside the government, this was what he had to say;
BUKIT MERTAJAM 1 Feb. – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim menolak tanggapan sesetengah pemerhati Barat bahawa kemelut ekonomi dan krisis mata wang di negara-negara Asia disebabkan oleh pengurusan yang lembap, rasuah dan pelbagai gejala negatif lain.
Timbalan Perdana Menteri berkata, mereka memberi gambaran seolah-olah ekonomi terjejas kerana pengurusan yang lembap, gejala rasuah dan pertimbangan semata-mata untuk suku sakat serta kepentingan sahabat handai dan keluarga.
Anwar yang juga Menteri Kewangan berkata, kepincangan dan ketidakadilan juga berlaku di Barat dan salah satunya ialah ketidakadilan sistem perdagangan dunia.
”Sistem perdagangan dunia memberi kepentingan kepada negara-negara kaya dan negara-negara industri dan pada masa yang sama menggunakan institusi antarabangsa mempertahankan kepentingan mereka,” katanya lagi yang menganggap dakwaan yang dibuat amat kritikal.
But he changed his tune when he was booted out from the government. The man whom everyone in the Pakatan Rakyat idolizes as the only clean and liberally democratic politician, has always been the main protagonist of anti cronyism and nepotisme slogans after his sacking. But people forget that underneath the seemingly clean image lies several issues contradicting and plaguing his reputation. As per the news in Berita Harian ( 8 December 1998 );
Bapa Anwar miliki saham 20 syarikat
KUALA LUMPUR, Isnin – Ketika Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim dan pengikutnya menuduh Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, mengamalkan kronisme, nepotisme dan kolusi, bekas Timbalan Perdana Menteri itu membisu terhadap kepentingan perniagaan keluarga dan rakan rapatnya. Senarai Pendaftar Syarikat menunjukkan anggota keluarga Anwar dan rakan rapatnya adalah peneraju korporat yang penting.
And another speech he made in 1995 which greatly mirrored the situation in Pakatan Rakyat now;
Anwar seru rakyat tolak Pas
HULU TERENGGANU, Selasa – Rakyat diminta menolak Pas kerana bersandiwara kononnya memperjuangkan kepentingan umat dan syiar Islam sedangkan pada masa sama membantu DAP melenyapkan kepentingan serta masa depan orang Melayu di Pulau Pinang, kata Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Timbalan Perdana Menteri menegaskan, sebagai contoh beliau mempunyai bukti bahawa calon DAP yang bertanding menentangnya bagi kerusi Parlimen Permatang Pauh, Abdul Raman Manap, adalah Timbalan Yang Dipertua Pas Bukit Mertajam.
Credibility and integrity throughout a political career is paramount in becoming a great and respected leader. Inconsistency in political principles tantamounts to losing both credibility and integrity. Anwar Ibrahim has not properly addressed this. Changing his stand without proper explanation and not supplementing any evidence towards any doubts about his own inconsistent character will prove to be a bane in gaining confidence from the rest of the nation.
As Stephen Covey once said – “In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do”.
A political reformer? The people’s saviour? An opportunist? A power hungry extremist?
You be the judge.