Anwar Ibrahim: Who is he to us?

By Charles R. Avila
(abridged by Din Merican)

When I was first met him in 1974 in Kuala Lumpur, Anwar Ibrahim was already a famous young man, having formed Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM). I was then based in Bangkok, Thailand and we were forming what was to be known as Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD). The aim was to conduct and institutionalize the inter-faith conversation and cooperation on the values of religion, revolution and development.

At our meeting in Malaysia’s cosmopolitan capital,Anwar wanted to check out why I wanted him to be part of ACFOD. He mentioned some Filipinos he had already known: Christians like Arturo Tanco, and Muslims like Jun Alonto. I remember I informed him that from Indonesia my friend Abdurrahman Wahid of Nahdatul Ulama, had already agreed to join as had the Buddhist Sulak Sivaraksa of Thailand, the Hindu Swami Agnivesh of India and the monk Tich Nhat Hanh. Before long, I learned that for championing the cause of hard-pressed poor farmers in a northern Malaysian state, Anwar was suddenly detained without trial for two years–in the same years when the practice was also common in my own country.

Time flew so fast. The Indochina was came to an end (1975). Anwar joined the ruling party, UMNO and in quick succession occupied various cabinet posts (in the Mahathir Administration). But not quite unknown to his compatriots, Anwar had a secret inspiration—the Filipino pioneering patriot, Jose Protacio Rizal. Like Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Pandit Nehru, and Rabrindranath Tagore and Sun Yat Sen, Anwar Ibrahim saw Rizal as among a few who belonged to no particular epoch, who belonged to the world, and whose life had a universal message.

Although his field of action lay in politics, which he bore in the cause of duty rendering a leader without ambition and a revolutionary without hatred, Rizal’s real interests lay in the arts and sciences, in literature and medicine. Anwar Ibrahim too is a voracious reader, most conversant with an entire corpus of Eastern literature and Western canons.

While he was Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar was fond of quoting this line from Noli, the first Southeast Asian novel (by Rizal): ” In the history of human suffering is a cancer so malignant that the least touch awakens such agonising pains”.. The book could have been about any nation, not just Spanish-ruled Philippines, in Asia. Rizal noted that healing must begin with honest diagnosis: “I will lift part of the veil that conceals the evil, sacrificing all to the truth, even my own pride…”

Anwar explained: “In a closed society, lifting the veil would be taboo. Indeed, Rizal’s social diagnosis was tantamount to subversion. In his time, the closed society was identified with colonialism, but that was only a cloak that wrapped it for a time. A century since Rizal was executed, Asia has had five decades of modern nationhood. But the cloak of colonialism has been replaced by coverings of various fashions and thickness, including dictatorships…we must remove the veil hiding our shame. More than ever, we need courage of Rizalian proportions to be honest with ourselves”.

And still more from Anwar Ibrahim of the Malay race: “The Philippine Revolution, the first of its kind in Asia, opened the floogates of liberation against Western imperialism. More than physical bondage, it aimed to break the chains of mental captivity. In Rizal’s words” ‘We must win freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual. loving what just, good and great, to the point of dying for it, When a people reach these heights…the idols and tyrants fall like a house of cards and freedom shines in the frist dawn.'”

Not long after, Anwar would go to jail a second time for his unrelenting campaign against corruption and abuse of power and his commitment to the Rizalian ideals of empowerment, justice and equity. As acting Prime Minister in 1997, he introduced the controversial Anti-Corruption legislation which held public officials accountable for corrpt practices even after their departure from public service.

Anwar is the man whose understanding is that Jose Rizal’s programme for the liberation was for all Asia and in pursuing that programme, he became “Asian of the Year” per Newsweek Internationala decade ago. It was Malaysia’s Anwar who saw Rizal’s articulation of the idealistic foundations of an independent nation —of liberty, human dignity and morality—as unprecedented. He said. …”The only justification for national self-government is the restoration of the dignity of the people. But this ideal will continue to elude us as long as abject poverty, rampant corruption, oligarchs and encomenderos remain. These evils will not be defeated until we liberate ourselves from mental incarceration. Then we can recover our own virtues and be, in the words of Jose Rizal, ‘once more free, like the bird that leaves the cage, like the flower that opens to the air’“.

As a prominent world Muslim leader, Anwar is again showing the Rizalian feature his style. He certainly does not shy from criticising Muslim countries for their failings. During ameeting of Islamic scholars in Dubai, for instance, he condemned the torture of Iraqis at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison, but he also urged participants to scrutinize their own governments on decades for cruelty in their own gaols.

Today, the Prime Minister-in-waiting of Malaysia is widely recognised as an advocate for moderate Islam, cultural and religious tolerance, liberal democracy and international collaboration. He argues that Islam and Democracy should be compatible and decries the use of violence and crime in the name of Islam. ” It is a moral imperative for Muslims to be fully committed to democratic ideals”, Anwar has said.

The “gross misunderstanding” of the relationship between Islam and Democracy was fed by corrupt and unaccountable governments in parts of the Muslim world, not by adherence to true Islamic values. He cites Indonesia as an example of a predominantly Muslim nation that began as a democracy. The Indonesian election of 1955 was relatively free and fair, but “was hijacked by the secular nationalist Sukarno. People tend to forget this fact: it was not hijacked by the Muslim parties in Indonesia”.

Or listen to his remarks that remarks that remarkably evidence the east-west integration that has become his peculiar charisma amd moved Time to name him to the top 100 most influential persons on earth: Whether it is Islam, Christianity, Judaism or other religions, faith reinvigorated could lead not just to bigotry, but may, when compounded with the elements of political and social discontent, cause us to express ourselves through violence and bloodshed,” Anwar once said. “But if moulded under the hand of universal wisdom it could be a force to free us from ignorance and intolerence, injustice and greed”.

Anwar Ibrahim arrives in Manila today (June 6, 2008 ) for a private visit. But how private can one be when the whole world knows he is Malaysia’s Chief Executive-in-waiting. Like Ninoy Aquino who was once time barred from running for the presidency by age technicality, Anwar too could not run in the last Malaysian elections as it was deliberately scheduled only weeks before his re-qualification to stand for elective office. But the people all the more rallied behind his candidates and delivered a powerful message.

Anwar’s Group won 82 seats of the Malaysian Parliament’s 222 seats during the March 8, 2008 elections, wrestling control of five of Malaysia’s 13 states from the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO)-led coalition, which held power since 1957. His wife, Dr. Wan Azizah, who is Parti KeADILan Rakyat President, and his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar ran for Parliament last March and won convincingly.
This article was written by Charles R. Avila to commemorate Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s visit on June 6 and 7, 2008 to the Philippines where he met up with former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Corazon Aquino and other dignatories. Like Indonesians, our Filipino friends hold Anwar Ibrahim in high regard. —Din Merican

27 thoughts on “Anwar Ibrahim: Who is he to us?

  1. Well, I’m envious of Anwar. I know Indonesians and Filipinos adore him much and this gives me ONE hope: that Anwar will help Filipino Muslims and under his watch, the Southern Problem will be solved since he has close ties to all Filipino leaders and will also solve the Thai Muslim Issue since he has close ties regionally and globally. Hate him or love him, but Anwar Ibrahim is a brand.
    Abdullah, thanks for your comments. Anwar has built up a group of formidable friends and associates in our region. I know he will be actively engaging governments in ASEAN to deal with regional problems. For example, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the ASEAN Secretary-General, is his close friend, so is Ambassador at Large Tommy Koh of Singapore and he can engage them at the intellectual and philosophical level. Two days ago, he had a visit from the former Prime Minister of Norway(1997-2000),Mr. Kjell Magne Bondevik who invited him to speak in Oslo.—Din Merican

  2. I hope when Anwar becomes PM, the VC of Universiti Malaya would remove the pots and plants which now hide the Speakers’ Corner where Anwar once stood to exercise his constitutional right of free speech.
    Let us hope that when Anwar becomes PM, there will be a massive shake-up in the University of Malaya, starting with the appointment of a truly outstanding academic, preferably a Malaysian, to be the new Vice Chancellor. A new Board of the University should be appointed and the whole structure of university administration must be revamped. Remove all deadwood and attract the best minds.

    Many Malaysians are waiting to return home when the environment allows for the best minds to do well. Enough of mediocrity and the time is long overdue for our country to move forward and join the ranks of the best in our region, say Singapore or South Korea. —Din Merican

  3. Is it really necessary that Anwar be the PM when we kick those butts out?

    The “change” is here and the “finishing” is soon. When the current system is so broken, there WILL be a lot of work. Plenty. As we won’t live by “government” alone but must strengthen civil society, the twin efforts need 2 Anwars.

    That said, when we remove the blinkers, a lot of positive things will happen that need good but not austere managing.
    Salak, Anwar will attract a lot of talent, both young and experienced. But he will be the undisputed leader and conductor of the Malaysian symphony of talent, thinkers and practical men and women. We need all Malaysians to rally behind him. As you say, civil society is vital if we are to succeed. I personally make it a point to cultivate lasting friendships with civil society leaders like Raja Petra, Haris Ibrahim, Atan Rocky Bru, Zorro and others in BERSIH, Sisters in Islam, etc. —Din Merican

  4. I believe in change and i believe change is inevitable. Whether you are of any faith does not matter as the era of evils of corruption , suppresion , cronyism and manipulation will come to an end. Let all BN warlords be warned your era of cheating is coming to an abrupt end.
    Parli-Man, thanks. Those BN leaders have yet to wake up to reality. Business as usual is not an option.—Din Merican

  5. Dear Din,
    I read with great interest your latest posting on Anwar.

    I fully agree with you on leaders who are brave and sincere for the people will prevail.
    Obama in the US now reminds me of Anwar…and I fully support him in his quest to be the next US President and it will be on a landslide victory.

    Like Anwar, visionary leaders are not just concerned with policy but they have the ability to energise and unite the people, who look beyond race, creed and culture. the US is ready because the leaders who are themselves white have failed and cause people hardships. So it is with Malaysia the corrupt leaders and they must be jailed and their wealth has to be confiscated.

    I know Anwar personally once when we travelled to the Philippines when he was Agriculture Minister. He will remember me as I was with his late brother and wife Majmin. We spent a few days and Anwar was so down to earth, and friendly and sincere. I saw in him a very charismatic and one who works for the people as his brother told me about Anwar as a young man and his ideals. I already admired him then. Anwar met me a few times as I commute on business Penang-KL and he would ask me to see him at his office. I never did as he was Education Minister then and extremely busy with so many meetings with the people he serves. Besides I was not asking for any favour.

    Being in Canada I was shocked about the entire trump up charges by Mahathir.Do send my regards to Anwar and Kak Wan.I also know Wong Yen William, and where is he now? Great Blog Din, keep it up and we ex-Malaysians in Vancouver Canada are very interested in politics back home as I am a director of Malaysia Canada Business Council and the Malaysia Association.

    I once had a private meeting with a High Commssioner to Malaysia and asked him to lobby for the release of Anwar as Paul Martin, the PM, was a good friend of Anwar. Six month later AAB released Anwar as if my prayers were answered.

    I for one know that PR will triumph as I have seen the KMT went down. It is now back again in Taiwan only because of corrupt leaders. Yes we must work for all the people and apartheid policies of Mahathir to amass wealth for cronies and family are over. He has forgotten his friends in Kedah, I mean Chinese friends who helped him, many of whom are my uncles and relatives. He did injustice to Tunku Abdul Rahman, a close friend of my father from way back when…..and we were honest people never wanted to be cronies.

    Mahathir’s recent interview on BBC made me puke as he was soooo bloody wrong and showed his racist attitude…to the fullest. We have grown up and we know the truth.

    Thats life. Din I have read about you years ago in Malaysia of course and so glad you are now in politics and a great academician.

    I am a businessman in Vancouver and doing business and corporate work for companies getting a lisitng on the stock market here. Even for good Cambodian companies so let me know.
    Dear Chong,

    It is great to know that you are very much in touch with our country and have time to read this blog.

    Yes, Mahathir is a great disappointment to us. As you know, I believed in the man from Alor Star where I grew up.He is a family friend. I cannot fully explain the man’s arrogance of power. He started in 1981 with lots of promise with his “Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah” tagline and then after years of this Yang Amat Berhormat bodek stuff, the small town kid with a strict father lost his way.

    After 1987, he became obsessed with power. His political turning point was 1998 when he put Anwar in gaol and humiliated Wan Azizah and his children by charging his political prodigy with sodomy. Now with all the revelations in the Lingam video clip and the subsequent Royal Commission hearings (read the Report?), we know that Mahathir manipulated the judiciary, threatened Judges ( as revealed in Justice Ian Chin’s statement, for example) and betrayed our trust. As a result, Malaysia is known as a corrupt and racist country after 22 years of his authoritarian rule. And of late, Mahathir started to play ultra Malay politics again, but it won’t work.

    Now it is payback time for Mahathir. He must be made to answer for the excesses of his administration. He may yet suffer the fate of Fujimori (Peru) and other dictators like Marcos, Idi Amin and others before him.

    I am proud that you are active as a businessman in Vancover with a heavy schedule of work. Nothing like hard work for a decent life and sevice to your community, my friend. Please let me know if there are Canadian businessmen who are interested in investing in Selangor, Penang, Kedah, Perak and Kelantan which are under Pakatan Rakyat and I will be happy to make the contacts for them through you. But you must tell them to take a long term view of Malaysia; the present corrupt and incompetent government led by a Penangnite Badawi will not last long. UMNO-led Barisan Nasional coalition is dysfunctional.

    Yes, Anwar told me that Paul Martin is a great humanist and intellectual. They are still in touch.

    I have lost contact with the brilliant University of Minnesota economist William Wongyen. He is very good man. I knew him from Bank Negara days. But if I meet him any time soon, I will inform him that we are in contact.

    Remember we are Malaysians, no matter where we are and our country can be great again with competent and honest leaders.—Din Merican

  6. lot of things that I have come to know about Anwar nowadays seem to be quite interesting and positive which is of course good and assuring for Malaysians who still have little doubt about him. I have close friend of mine who is in his sixties and happened to be with Anwar during his University days. My friend was in the students’ council in UM and claims he had sat with Anwar to promote equality among races but Anwar was unwilling at the time. So my friend still doubts Anwar’s present approach. Just like Anwar my friend is an ardent reader of great books.
    People change and Anwar is no exception. Richy, give him the chance to lead our country because I know Anwar can and will make the difference.—Din Merican

  7. Yes Anwar Ibrahim is our only “HOPE” for a new Malaysia after 51 years of systemic rot, worse in the past 25 years!

    Having said that I like to caution Dato Seri Anwar on his recent statement that when Pakatan Rakyat takes over the Federal Govt later this year in September 2008, he will reduce the pump price of petrol. I find his statement brave, but rather careless and irrational, overconfident perhaps at this point of time when oil prices are still unstable – US$139 a barrel, still climbing and looks unstoppable! There’s this saying: “There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lips”.

    Let’s be realistic, every Malaysian knows that the hike is inevitable looking at world market price and we all accept that. What frustrates and anger us Malaysians is the way this Umno-led BN government handles the situation – their total disregard and lack of concern for the average man on the street, and how this sudden 41% jump in petrol overnight from rm1.92 to rm2.70 per litre would affect them. Now they have left the floodgates open to spiral rising costs in practically everything from food,services, goods to transport of which they now have lost control!

    The whole country is in a mess today because of long term Corruption, BAD governance and BAd administration by a government that has lost its focus. 51 years in power yet it has failed to provide the people with a cheaper alternative public transport system(a fine example – one time little barren rock Singapore!) and what the heck was the Prime Minister talking about – “change lifestyle, jimat and tighten their belts”?

    He and his bunch of baboons go around spending taxpayers money as if there’s no tomorrow and their god-given right to do whatever they want, however they want and whichever way they want, when millions of Malaysians especially the poor, the pensioners and single parents are already scraping the bottom of their household kitty.

    Btw where are those trillions of ringgit from Petronas Oil revenue said to be still “unaccounted for” in the Fedeal Treasury? Why is Anti-Corruption Agency(ACA) not acting on it? Who are they trying to protect?
    Jong, we have spent long hours debating with Anwar. We believe it is possible to bring down the price of oil. Otherwise, why does Anwar keep saying that he can bring the price down? Remember he was a former Deputy Prime Minister and an outstanding Minister of Finance.

    Right now, Petronas is a secret organization which reports to the Prime Minister. Let them publish their accounts for public knowledge. We will know their cost structure and profits and what they did with trillions of ringgit which they earned in revenues since 1974 when oil and gas were discovered offshore Terengganu.—Din Merican

  8. Tubuh Suruhanjaya Siasat Anwar Ibrahim
    Contributed by taminsari on Saturday, June 07 @ 10:19:03 MYT
    Topic: KOMENTAR-2
    Anwar Ibrahim semasa berucap di perhimpunan ” Black 14 ” yang diadakan di Kuala Lumpur baru-baru ini sempena menyambut hari ” tamat edah ” beliau yang membolehkannya bergiat semula di arena politik tanah air ada menyebut supaya satu suruhanjaya ditubuhkan bagi menyiasat Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohammad. Seolah-olah beliau menunggu saat-saat itu untuk melepaskan dendam kesumatnya terhadap Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohammad.

    Apabila mendengar kata-kata Anwar, teringat kembali ketika Anwar Ibrahim masih di zaman pelajar. Rakyat mungkin sudah lupa yang Anwar Ibrahim pernah bersumpah untuk menjahanamkan pimpinan Dr.Mahathir di depan Allahyarham Haji Sulaiman Palestin kerana ditahan ISA sewaktu Dr.Mahathir menjadi Menteri Pelajaran. Semasa menjadi pemimpin ABIM dan pelajar, Anwar lantang mengecam dan mengutuk habis-habisan UMNO dan para pemimpinnya sepertimana yang masih dilakukannya sekarang tetapi tidak lama kemudiannya menjelir lidahnya kelangit.

    Sewaktu Anwar menjadi pemimpin ABIM dulu, prinsip agama Islam dijadikan asas perjuangannya untuk mencapai matlamat dalam politik. Setelah menyertai UMNO, semua prinsip dan perjuangan Islam hanya sebagai topeng saja sedangkan perjuangan sebenarnya adalah sebaliknya. Itulah Anwar Bin Ibrahim dengan dendam kesumatnya terhadap Tun Dr.Mahathir sejak dulu,kini dan selamanya.

    Adakah ini peluang terbaik Anwar untuk mengeluarkan segala tomahan agar Tun Mahathir dapat diheretkan ke mahkamah sepertimana yang dilakukan didalam kes Linggam sekarang. Tetapi bagaimana pula dengan kes Anwar sendiri. Bagaimana dengan pengakuan bersumpah bekas Penolong Gabenor Bank Negara, Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid berhubung dakwaan bahawa Anwar Ibrahim mengawal berpuluh akaun induk berjumlah berbilion ringgit semasa menjadi Menteri Kewangan. Jika dilihat kepada isi pengakuan bersumpah itu, ianya bukanlah mudah untuk direka-reka.

    Didalam akuannya, Abdul Murad turut menyatakan nama beberapa individu yang mempunyai kaitan dengan urusan dana berkenaan. Sebagaimana yang dinyatakan didalam akuan bersumpahnya, beliau menyelesaikan masalah individu tertentu setelah mendapat arahan Anwar menggunakan dana berkenaan. Risiko pendedahan Abdul Murad adalah besar jika beliau sendiri mereka-reka dakwaan berkenaan. Dakwaan Abdul Murad mungkin boleh dianggap berasas manakala penafian individu terbabit pula tidak boleh diketepikan begitu saja. Hanya penyiasatan rapi sahaja yang dapat menentukan segala-galanya.

    Begitu juga, disebabkan kedudukan Abdul Murad di Bank Negara Malaysia sebelum ini begitu penting dan beratnya dakwaan yang dibuatnya itu, BPR tidak boleh menunggu masa yang terlalu lama untuk menjalankan siasatan. Tambahan pula, maklumat yang diberikannya itu adalah dalam bentuk akuan bersumpah. Sebagaimana dijelaskan oleh Ketua Pengarah BPR pada masa itu, Datuk Ahmad Zaki Husin, hampir setiap perenggan dalam akuan bersumpah itu adalah maklumat mengenai rasuah. Dalam sesuatu akuan bersumpah, setiap dakwaan perlu dibuat dengan rasa penuh tanggungjawab. Oleh itu, pengakuannya itu perlu ditangani segera.

    Berhubung dakwaan Abdul Murad itu, BPR sudah pun membuat laporan polis dan dengan ini, siasatan dianggap sudah bermula. Abdul Murad pastinya orang pertama yang akan mempertahankan pengakuannya. Pengakuannya akan lebih jelas jika beliau dapat mengemukakan bukti, umpamanya segala dokumen berhubung urusan dengan bank terbabit. Mereka yang disabitkan dengan tuduhan itu juga seharusnya memberi kerjasama untuk memudahkan tugas BPR.

    Satu perkara yang agak jelas Abdul Murad dan Anwar mempunyai hubungan yang rapat, sekurang-kurangnya ketika Anwar menjadi Menteri Kewangan yang sering berurusan dengan Bank Negara di mana Abdul Murad bertugas. Abdul Murad sudah pun menyatakan beliau diperalatkan. Apa pun, rakyat seharusnya menunggu keputusan siasatan tanpa perlu membuat andaian sendiri.

    Yang menjadi persoalan sekarang mengapa kes ini sepi membisu. Mengapa tiada kedengaran susulan cerita mengenainya. Adakah kes ini sudah ditutup atau masih lagi didalam siasatan polis dan BPR? Rakyat ingin mengetahui tentang hasil siasatan kes tersebut. Anwar Ibrahim memang bijak dalam mencari kesalahan orang lain tetapi pada masa yang sama beliau sendiri yang melakukannya. Adakah Anwar Ibrahim terlalu suci dan bersih dan tiada cacat cela sehingga sanggup memalukan sesiapa sahaja yang didendaminya. Adakah satu lagi Suruhanjaya perlu ditubuhkan untuk menyiasat kes Anwar Ibrahim ini? Sama-samalah kita tunggu dan lihat.

  9. A good write-up with absolutely a horrible English.
    amjoem, read again, this time more carefully and then you are welcome to comment.—Din Merican

  10. Amar Makruf,
    You must have been living too long next to an oxidation pond, hence the need to keep recycling old material.

    Either you’re an idiot or you’ve just come back from some frozen time zone to try to foist this kind of garbage on us. Everyone including the local quasi modo knows the so called Murad confession was yet another despicable down right filthy attempt by Mahathir during the Anwar trials days to assassinate his character by coming up with all these Stalin-like confessions.

    You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that if there was one jot of evidence against Anwar it would have been used against him.

    Of course Murad had dirt on himself which provided the best opportunity for Mahathir and the conspirators to force him to make up all those nonsensical stories about billions in slush funds.

    Just think about it, why would the AG want to charge Anwar with such a flimsy allegation of abuse of power (by instructing the police to investigate acts of people to defame his character) when they could have charged him with so many counts of outright corruption?

    So, please Amar Makruf go back to the oxidation pond and take a good dip. Then go to the nearest detox centre before you come back to contaminate this domain with your next comment…

  11. Thanks, Conrad Agosy. I am too polite an old man to give this perverted misguided bumiputra, Amar Makruf, a good dresssing down. He is jurassic and we are going to have a lot of trouble when we have to deal with his type.—Din Merican

  12. insyaAllah, anwar will be our next prime minister.
    People like you, Nor’aini, and others of your generation of Malays must know that Anwar is pro-Malaysia and that means he will protect the interests of the Malays and other Malaysians. He wants to empower and create opportunities for all to be the best that we can be.

    We the Malays must not allow to UMNO-BN government to pamper us. That comes at a price: we must listen and follow them or they will hurt us. Political control of the Malay community is UMNO’s objective so that its leaders and their families and cronies can rape our country with impunity. Look at what they are doing now; it is the same way as they have done since the NEP was launched in 1970. Surely, there are better ways of empowering us and restoring our maruah.

    Be rational and work hard. Success is not delivered on a silver platter. It involves hard work, lots of risk taking and self discipline. If other Malaysian communities can prosper with minimum or even no help from the government, why can’t we the Malays. Melayu apa jika kita sudah hilang maruah dan jika kita korup, tidak beramanah dan tidak cekap dalam pengurusan?

    I do not like to speak in terms of Malays versus Others, but I feel I have to because we must compare ourselves with others and find out why we are lagging behind them. After that, we can act to change our own fate.—Din Merican

  13. amjoem,

    i don’t think it’s horrible english, i couldn’t done it better.

    uncle din,

    how are you? please tell dsai to take care. a lot people are hoping that he will become the pm….

  14. Anwar has a lot to thank Mahathir for. He is today a better human being, a better friend of the poor and the downtrodden. He builds democracy from the ground up which is the only way to take down this post-Mahathir administration.

    Political scientists and political science students may debate for years on the direction the country would have taken had Anwar not fallen out with his mentor. Let’s also not forget that it was Abdullah Badawi who removed any remaining roadblocks left in the way of Anwar’s release from incarceration. That cleared the way for the rehabilitation of the country’s best known conservative leader who has become a catalyst for change. The rest is history.

    Someone compares Anwar to Obama who is likely to be the next President of the United States. There are strong similarities. Both seek to build democracy from the ground up. Both feel there is a need for change in direction because of the failed policies of the current administration. Both are visionary leaders with strong commitment to principles whilst adopting a populist approach to politics. Both indulge in the politics of redistribution of wealth.

    As for Din’s former hero, Mahathir along with Khir Johari were friends with my late father. When he made his debut into national politics, I was still an undergrad. Along with Musa Hitam he was that young Malay upstart in a hurry to change the country. The opportunity came with the race riots of 1969. His meteoric rise to power since has been legendary. Today like all politicians used to having power, Mahathir found it hard to let go especially when his ‘anointed’ successor ran away with the cookie jar!

    It is important that we pause to reflect on Anwar’s message of ‘change’.

    Take oil for example. In the U.S. today the few oil companies that control the domestic supply of oil have come under stinging criticism from the Bush Administration for allowing the price of gas to rise to $4.05 at the pump whilst their top executives earn some $5 mil to $15 mil a year on the rising price of oil. I am confident that when Anwar takes over the reins from Badawi and his cohorts, he would be able to put his hands into the cookie jar that Petronas is, and distribute some of its ‘sweet’ contents to the ordinary people through price rationalization. But in the end even Anwar would not be able to do much as the problem is global.

    The long term approach would have to be to wean Malaysians off their addiction to oil i.e. Malaysians should reduce their driving, dump their SUVs for more fuel efficient vehicles for a start. We cannot wait for affordable ethanol driven vehicles to make their debut which makes investment in our public transportation system as the other short term solution to the problem – the final solution would have to be to change our lifestyle and our addiction to oil.

    Would ‘change’ be just an empty word under Anwar. I believe not. I hope not.

  15. What is Anwar to us? Which also validates, “what are we to us?”!


    You paint a fair working picture of the interdependence of the many forces at work resulting in the Malaysia today, now widely believed to be a broken system. I would have thought that the politicians’ excesses nearly screw up eveything else in sight when we crashed in ’87/88. And thanks to some useful traditional enemies, some level headed Jewish advisors, undoubtedly with vested business interests, motivated as Abdullah Badawi was softened up on Anwar, all for a mutually assurred place in Malaysia’s chronicles.

    It’s incredible isn’t it? That we now pin so much hopes on one man who now has so much to lose, and rightly and fairly to gain.

    We really now must relearn a lot of old things but keep fast to a way onwards never losing sight of the loss and gain, that the human asset is a subset of our socio-cultural capital, if there is such a notion. The fusion of competing cultural interests will just as well enhance rather than erode us. If rice poses a threat to us, it is part of other global issues no less significant than oil, and not in the least unimportant generally to global sustainability.

    What must worry us is that we took no cognizance in the faith of others in human nature, simply because we put all kinds of blinkers and continue to champion immodesty against humility. The standard excuse is we have so much to catch up on. A seasoned and retired public servant as my brother steadfastly believes it can’t be done. That’s one blinker Mahathir put in place. Strange ain’t it that when he aped visionary stances, his immodesty just about trampled on everyones sense of decency.

    Our laws and various Acts of Laws have been so trampled it’s beyond recognition. Take a smalll example of the Societies Act. We abused the regulations on PTA’s and vested them in the Education Ministry whose responsible immidiate custodian is the Keris wielding kaldai. And what do we get? A frontal unabashed act on civil society. That’s just one. There are countless others you can rattle away in a hospital bed. Err …just a figure of speech! 😉

    We must know that Anwar has a lot to face. And so do we. How much should we expect of him? There is rising expectation which must be met with similar realisation of the total challenge of change. We should be awed at the prospect enough to scrape all traces of mischief afoot, one that will set us far back as it can set us on deep into the future.

  16. What will not change, however, is that under Anwar we see the continued dependence on personality cult or a cult of personality cultivated and nurtured in this case by the internet, by the many political blogs such as this one that dominate cyberspace today. The danger is that this may lead us back to the same benevolent authoritarianism that characterized Mahathir’s administration.

    We have been there, done that! It is time for real and lasting change in the kind of leadership.

    In order for that to happen we have to look to second echelon leaders if you will, who are not afraid to tell the PM that he is wrong on the issues. Anwar should not be afraid to admit should he be wrong on any of the issues and make a corrective action to put the country back on that path towards a stable and prosperous Malaysia – a vision which we all share and which none has a special claim to. He should not surround himself by a group of advisors who are only too eager to please him rather than giving him the right advice. Mahathir’s control over power when he was PM was so complete and dominant that by surrounding himself with a group of “Yes” men, what he heard from his advisers or members of his inner cabinet, was not advice but echoes of his own voice.

    Is it surprising that today he has completely lost touch with reality?

    The other problem with personality cult is that it is hard to replace – the shelf life too short.

  17. 2 things Wat,

    on the chicken shelf life –

    Anwar is willing to resign should he fail on the oil issue ( good sign);

    Indications are that PR are results bias, ie other plans depend on things achieved (rational);

    Presently people of the likes of Norman Kaldai spy, threaten and spin and debase themselves; it’s a hell of a mania that weaves them right back into the perceived safety of their ketuanan cocoon!

    Remember the recent Johore fiasco? There was this Malaysian Literature Nobel lowyat who believes his own lies? Outrageous! 😦

  18. “benevolent authoritarianism” ???

    the rape on the economy; the lost opportunity for betterment; the malaise soaking deep into the disadvanged poor?

    what benevolence, Wat? What joy for poor souls? Doesn’t that prick conscience?

    Err… no joy in that! 😉

  19. Anwar – who is he to us? Whoever he is to us, I hope we don’t treat him like ‘god’, like what we had done with mahathir in his heyday.

    We should learn the lesson from our mistake. It is always a folly to place someone in the high pedestal and offer blind allegience. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!

    Let us watch our adulation so that it doesn’t escalate into handling our power to only one particular individual or to only one particular party.

  20. Yes, it is part of the broader issue I referred to earlier – personality cults. The problem with ‘personality cult’ is that it does not survive the person. But more serious, it offers the kind of leadership which could easily deteriorate into dictatorship, at its worst and at best a kind of authoritarian rule we have seen under Mahathir – benevolent authoritarianism.

  21. Kawan and Novice 101,

    I do see your point and concern, I am with you. Yes, we have all come to a point that we can’t help but notice and feel a sense of danger of this continued dependence on one single personality – Anwar Ibrahim that may be unhealthy and I agree with Kawan’s observation that it may lead us back to the same benevolent authoritarianism that characterized Mahathir’s administration. Let’s hope not.

    The extreme quiet from both DAP and PAS camps also do not seem to impress that all is well in comradeship, well positioned and ready for the final push, or is it? As Pakatan Rakyat supporters, we need to see more proactive participation from leaders of PKR, DAP and PAS.

  22. “I am a businessman in Vancouver and doing business and corporate work for companies getting a lisitng on the stock market here. Even for good Cambodian companies so let me know.” – J Chong

    Dear Mr J Chong,
    Proud to have successful Malaysian businessman in Canada! You have cleverly advertised yourself on this blog, so I wonder if you may be interested in a fresh new kind of business Malaysian plastic surgeons are offering. It was reported in NST last week and I think Tourism Malaysia under our new Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina may soon have it spin off and worded this way to promote Malaysia:

    “If you need to prove your virginity, fly to Malaysia! ”

    Said the New Straits Times:

    // Among the clientele are foreign students who are leaving the country not just with a new academic certificate, but with an intact hymen. The operation is also attracting some local university students who request for their hymen to be repaired.

    They are usually in their early 20s and most are in the final year of their studies. “The girls don’t come alone (for the consultation and surgery). They come with their boyfriends or a trusted girlfriend,” the newspaper quoted, but did not name, a consultant plastic surgeon with a private hospital. “To them, having the hymen intact is not just an important marriage commodity – their very lives depend on it,” says the surgeon. //

    Contact the minister if you are keen. Perhaps Din Merican may be of help since he has offered to.

  23. Jong, i’m here, just reading but not posting. I’ve known DSAI since school days and have nothing to add. He is as what is reported and maybe more. I just hope he delivers when he gets the position.

  24. saya adalah pelajar sekolah berumur 16 tahun mewakili kawan saya berharap DSAI menjadi PM yang seterusnya.Kemudian bongkarkanlah kesemua kesalahan pemimpin-pemimpin korup UMNO/BN.
    Hadi, kami di PKR dan PAS termasuk DAP berjuang untuk generasi anda tetapi kami juga harap generasi anda akan menjadi angkatan baru yang bermaruah, tidak korup, rajin dan boleh bersaing tanpa bantuan pemimpin UMNO yang tiada sifat malu tentang rasuah dan hal peribadi mereka yang kotor dan lucu. Carilah ilmu dan rajin membaca kerana ilmu bukan diberi tetapi hanya boleh dicari. Lagi pun, anak Melayu yang berilmu dan sanggup berkerja keras untuk redzeki yang halal adalah manusia yang disayangi Allah swt. Salams dari saya, Pak Din.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.