All Blogs protem President Ahiruddin “Rocky” Attan organised a session with former Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim this afternoon. We met at his private office in section 16, Petaling Jaya. One of Zorro Unmasked‘s (www.zorro-zorro-unmasked.blogspot.com) students arranged the meeting and Zorro insisted that I attend.
More than a dozen bloggers showed up. Then Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim appeared, in his dashing grey baju Melayu, a nice songket samping but without the songkok. PKR Vice President Azmin Ali and Anwar’s PA, Nik Nazmi were there too.
The session was conducted in an informal ambience. Mainly, we asked him questions and opinion and he answered. Most of it was about politics. It was like a PR exercise for him and PKR, with the vast spectrum bloggers.
Anwar Ibrahim felt that bloggers have a big role to play in the political interests now. He said bloggers provided a lot of information and created awareness. He also said that the Government is feeling the affect of it growing and they are beginning to react.
Anwar tributed a lot of his earlier struggle after being sacked from Government and UMNO to Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Malaysia Today. In his own words, “…strong supporter and immense contribution….” into his cause. He also admitted he reads Malaysia Today, often. However, he did not say about the other blogs.
Anwar had a strong resolution that PKR lost in Ijok recently, because of the phantom voters and cheating in the ballots. When I raised that PKR’s lost in Ijok is dubbed “Anwar’s Waterloo”, he coyly answer was “That’s interesting”. Anwar admitted that its tough to strike a balance between the getting the support of hardliners PAS supporters, especially in the interiors and the more liberal issues with the DAP people.
Talking about the current politics today, the matter about him opposing Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s and now Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administrations. Anwar said, “At least Dr. Mahathir gets things done!”, with a full confidence of a clear distinction, “Pak Lah is not doing anything. What is going on now is a blatant rape and molestation of country’s resources”.
Asked about the chances to run against the current administration as opposed the previous, Anwar said its slightly easier now. He explained further, “Dr. Mahathir was more decisive in his approach and has no qualms about using force and resources”.
When posed to the question, why not he take on Abdullah in Kepala Batas in the next elections, he smirked, almost not ready to be ‘ambushed’ in that manner “That’s interesting……got to be looked into”. Then he rambled about further about the ethnic composition. He said “Its not easy”. When asked why he is relaxed on the attacks against PM Abdullah, he gave an excuse that some of Penang people asked him to ease of on the son of a well known Ulama’.
Anwar also reiterated “You cannot underestimate the intellectual capacity of Dr. Mahathir”. Clearly, its embedded in him that Tun Dr. Mahathir has put a mark in his system on the latter’s ability to achieve many things. When asked about him reconciling with his former Boss, he coyly said “I told Al Gore the same thing recently…. let us just move on”.
Asked about upcoming PKR Convention, two agenda would be focused which is Economy and Election Commission. He spoke of the abolishment of the NEP and have a market economy with a special policy to help the under developed Malays, which is majority of the population. It sounds suspiciously like NEP re-packaged in another form, being re-branded. He also admitted in the 70s, he also supported the NEP when he was a student leader. Of course he conveniently omitted the point that he was the Finance Minister which specifically implemented a lot of projects and programs under the NEP as we know it, for 7 years (1991-1998). Nailing him in front of fellow bloggers in his own turf might be regarded as ‘distasteful’.
Anwar also touched on the international inter-faith convention that was supposed to be held here in Malaysia but canceled. He sounded like he is in support of the “Article 11” movement and he said he did explain the issue of engaging the different faith from a more liberal perspective at great length to the PAS leaders. He said he managed to contain the PAS leaders from antagonizing against the issue further.
The last word in this session with Anwar Ibrahim, the bloggers were asked to give more support for PKR. In response to that, Rocky said that it is important that All-Blogs remain impartial as it drew bloggers from adverse political affiliations including UMNO (this is where everyone “conveniently” turned to the back and glanced at me! Thanks a million, Rocky! Of course, Anwar gave another cynical smirk at me, again). Being a seasoned politico-bloggo-journo who is very matured in the political scene, Rocky said All-Blogs needed PKR support more than PKR needed them. All laughed.
When parted, as Anwar shook my hand, he gave a very cynical smile (as if we have engaged before). Most probably for an informal PR session, I threw too much prickly questions at him. At the end of the session, his daughter and aspiring PKR young politican Nurul Izzah Anwar dropped by to greet the bloggers.