Anwar’s sandiwara, again

“To be or not be. That is the question.”

It seemed Anwar Ibrahim was acting up again. Anwar played Hamlet, at this year PKR’s annual convention at Chung Hwa High School, in Seremban. It was not exactly how William Shakespeare wrote it, but pretty much there.

Anwar had trumped up that he was contesting for the post of President of PKR, this year. 120 nominations received. He was ready to defy Registrar of Society’s (ROS) rules that a convicted criminal is barred from holding office of any organization within five years of one’s release from serving time. Anwar’s interregnum period ends April next year.

Anwar was still very determined to be elected this year’s convention. When he met the press corp at the tea break after his own speech, he said so, very confidently. A few minutes later he changed his mind. He withdrew his own nomination, just like that.

It was a moment of anti climax.

Joceline Tan, who calls it Anwar having his own silat show and sandiwara, has the story on today’s Sunday Star (www.thestar.com.my):

Day of high drama at PKR congress 

Analysis
By JOCELINE TAN
 

WHEN Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim strolled into the press area during coffee break, he was still defiant about becoming the next president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

“Yes, I’m going for it. Who cares about the Registrar of Societies (ROS)?” he said.

It was the first day of the PKR congress. Party president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had just delivered her policy speech and voting for the new leadership line-up was about to begin.

Asked if he was going to risk being an illegal president, Anwar mumbled something about his party lawyers having looked into the matter.

But his do-and-be-damned stance was just a stunt. Anwar had already decided not to take the risk.

As he left the press area, several party people, including lawyer Sivarasa Rasiah, surrounded him whispering furiously and pressuring him to change his mind.

“Anwar is very prone to thinking with his heart but I think this time his head will rule his heart,” said Anwar’s long-time friend Datuk Ravi Dharan.

When the congress reconvened after the break, Anwar was invited onstage to “make an announcement.”

He related how ROS had notified him at 4.30pm on Friday that the party would be de-registered if he contested. He was pulling out because he was not prepared to sacrifice the party with the general election so close.

The hall erupted in dismay. Permanent chairman Ismaili Hishammudin had to give in to pressure that Anwar listen to views from the floor before reaching a final decision

It was high drama and one delegate after another spoke, one of them almost breaking into tears.

The man at the centre of it all sat looking calmly over the tempest raging below.

He was rather casually dressed for such a big occasion. His baju Melayu top was worn loosely over his kain samping and he had eschewed shoes for leather slippers. His bad back was acting up again for he walked with a slight limp.

They wanted him to contest but he had made up his mind. He would be their leader and Dr Wan Azizah their president.

And just as everyone thought that the high emotions had come to a close, Abdul Rahman Othman, the third contestant to the president’s post, declared he was also withdrawing.

This time the hall exploded in a standing ovation. Within seconds, Rahman, ostracised following his bid for the top post, became a hero of sorts. Ismaili had tears in his eyes when he hugged and congratulated Rahman.

Rahman claimed it was a spontaneous act on his part after listening to Anwar’s appeal, although he admitted later that he had “accidentally met” Anwar at a local hotel the previous night and they had chatted for an hour.

Journalists watching the turn of events wondered if there was anything at all spontaneous that morning. There had obviously been quite a bit of choreography behind the scenes.

Anwar and those close to him were well aware of the perils of challenging the ROS. The law is the law, even if one deems the law unjust.

But posturing Anwar as the potential president brought the supporters out in droves. And challenging the ROS gave the party a huge boost of morale.

There was, said one journalist, lots of shock and awe and, if P. Ramlee were still alive, he would have loved to make a movie out of it.

It was superb political strategy and the outpouring of emotions confirmed his standing in the party.

On top of all this, the ROS played an unwitting supporting role to the political melodrama.

Anwar had accused the ROS and the powers behind it of silat and sandiwara in blocking him at the eleventh hour but he was apparently not above his own brand of silat and sandiwara. It was Anwar at his Machiavellian best.

Dr Wan Azizah was the only one who did not seem rehearsed. She was truly the eye of the storm, still demure and sweet-tempered after so many years of rough-and-tumble opposition politics. And still stuck with a job she has never really wanted.

**********************

Is this the kind of leader who almost became Prime Minister once?

Obviously consistency is not a trait of this man. Some politicians have been described as slime and scumbag, but Anwar Ibrahim’s ability to play drama and put up a sandiwara had been incorrigible and incurably unbearable. First it was the arsenic poisoning, then neck thingy. The most recent was Court of Appeal turned down his application to sue Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for unlawful dismissal then as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister on 2 Sept 1998, a complete waste of everyone’s time and resources. One drama after another.

How much further this opera will go on?

Fate had made Dr. Mahathir Mohamad changed his mind. Remember, Anwar was convicted for a six year jail term for abusing his powers as the Deputy Prime Minister. This the same man who almost covered for Tom Wolfowitz for his mistress’s scandal in the IMF.

* An update, Monday 28 May 2007. Without doubt PKR is Party Anwar. A true blue Party Anwar. Everything about PKR now is about Anwar and his friends. Wan Hamidi of NST has the story:

2007/05/28

Parti Keadilan Rakyat CONGRESS

Anwar’s tried and true inner circle

By : Wan Hamidi Hamid

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A DAY after he was appointed de facto leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim did not waste time in showing off his power over Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

After the full results of the party polls were announced yesterday, instead of incumbent president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, it was Anwar who announced the appointment of national leaders to complement the elected office-bearers.

Among his prominent appointees was Saifuddin Nasution, a former party stalwart who was PKR’s Lunas assemblyman from 2000 to 2004 before he left active politics due to personal differences with some party leaders.

Saifuddin, once a staunch reformasi activist, is attached to a Pas state government agency assisting the poor in Kelantan. Now he has a major role to play in PKR.

He was appointed PKR’s strategic adviser under the party’s powerful political bureau headed by Anwar, along with party election director Azmin Ali, who retained his vice president’s post.
Anwar also appointed former women’s wing chief Fuziah Salleh as Azmin’s deputy. Fuziah lost in the contest for the party’s three elected vice-presidents.

The former deputy prime minister also rewarded loyalists Sivarasah Rasiah and Dr Jeffrey Kitingan to the two appointed vice-presidencies, and promoted treasurer Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who lost his bid in the Ijok by-election recently, as secretary-general.

The new treasurer is his personal friend William Leong, while information chief Tian Chua is retained.

Party insiders believe Anwar will strengthen his grip by appointing more trusted friends and supporters for the five seats in the party’s supreme council and for each of the posts of state liaison chief.

“If necessary, he will create a few more posts. Yes, it may be the appointment of his friends and close allies, but it will be good for the party to work towards a common goal,” said an insider.

There are others unhappy with the situation, fearing it will create an elite based on one man’s personality. But these disgruntled members may have forgotten the reason the party was formed.

This will be a different PKR as Anwar, whatever his followers call him, leads the party from the front towards creating an impact in the next general election.

Azmin announced that the party had identified 60 parliamentary and 120 state seats to fight for and would meet Pas and DAP separately to form an electoral pact.

“We’re going to tell our allies that it’s not necessary for a Chinese-majority seat to be contested by DAP and a Malay-majority one by Pas. There are new considerations for us to look into.”

The three-day PKR congress was nothing special in terms of debate and quality of discussion but it had sporadic surprises and thrills.

There was even a faction calling itself the “Enlightenment” group which caused a minor stir in some, and disgust in others. Yet a couple of their candidates succeeded in the party polls.

One of them, Khalid Jaafar, who won a supreme council seat, claimed that it was a fresh start for believers of freedom and openness to espouse their ideas against the welfare state, religious orthodoxy and racial supremacy.

But it will be a tough task for this group as party members seem comfortable with heavy state subsidies, price controls, salary caps and other forms of taxation on the rich to help the poor.

For new Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin, it was more than just personality politics — younger members want to lead the way in promoting Anwar’s ideals and policies to the grassroots.

“We will be different from the previous leadership in terms of creating more grassroots leaders instead of depending on certain individuals,” he said.

While little mention was made of former Youth chief Ezam Mohd Noor, allegedly behind some of the agitation in the Youth wing a few days ago, it was Anwar who came to his defence.

“I thank Ezam for creating the Youth movement for the party and appreciate all that he has done,” he said.

Whether that was sincerely meant, only PKR members, especially the next generation leaders, can decide.

They have a tough job to do. Anwar’s words have always been sweet to their ears but to win as many seats as possible in the next general election, that is a totally different proposition.

Published in: on May 27, 2007 at 23:08  Comments (10)