Anwar broke a secret deal with Najib by protesting polls results, reveals WSJ

May 26, 2013

Behind Malaysian Poll Protest, a Peace Deal That Collapsed

by Patrick McDowell and James Hookway (05-24-13)

JAKARTA, Indonesia—A former Indonesian Vice President with a history of Jusuf Kallabrokering peace agreements has accused Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of reneging on a secret deal to respect the outcome of Malaysia’s elections on May 5.

Jusuf Kalla (right) revealed the pre-election accord in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, amid a public protest campaign by Mr. Anwar over what the Opposition leader said was widespread vote fraud by the ruling National Front coalition.

The election returned Prime Minister Najib Razak and the long-ruling National Front to power in the tightest national election in Malaysian history.

Mr. Kalla said the two candidates—whom he said he considered friends of his going back decades—had made a written agreement in April to refrain from personal attacks during the campaign and to accept the outcome, in a deal first proposed by Mr. Anwar.

Anwar Ibrahim (recent)Mr. Anwar acknowledged he had made the pact with Mr. Najib, with Mr. Kalla as mediator, but said the National Front had rendered it void by the way it ran its campaign.

He singled out Malaysia’s media, much of which is controlled or owned by the government or members of the ruling coalition. “How can you talk reconciliation when you demonize your opponent in this manner?” Mr. Anwar said to The Wall Street Journal. He also said it was Mr. Kalla, not him, who first proposed the pact.

Mr. Najib stressed reconciliation in his first public remarks after the election, though both sides said that the other had rejected a clause in the pact that the winner was to offer the loser a role in a “reconciliation government.”

Mr. Najib’s camp confirmed that the agreement was made and dismissed Mr. Anwar’s view that it had been undermined by the campaign—during which both sides accused the other of low blows and distortions. Mr. Anwar had strong support among Malaysian Web-based media during the campaign.

Mr. Kalla said he felt that both sides met their commitment to refrain from personal attacks during the campaign, and he hasn’t criticized Mr. Najib over the conduct of the election.

Mr. Anwar said he plans to step up a legal campaign to overturn the results in 29 electoral districts, raising political tensions in Malaysia, which has grown increasingly divided in the aftermath of the election.

Mr. Anwar, a former Deputy Prime Minister who has been the country’s most prominent Opposition leader for the past 15 years, has led a national campaign of mass rallies since the election. The scene has grown increasingly confrontational. Three prominent opposition activists were detained and later released in the past week.

In the weeks before the election, Mr. Anwar alleged that the National Front and Malaysia’s Election Commission were manipulating electoral rolls and mobilizing illegal voters. On May 5, Mr. Anwar said his alliance had won and accused the National Front of stealing the election.

The National Front and the Election Commission rejected the allegations of electoral fraud. The Commission said there were extremely few irregularities, and that a record 85% of voters cast ballots.

Mr. Anwar said he is pessimistic that courts would overturn results in key districts.

The final vote count showed that Mr. Anwar’s Pakatan Rakyat alliance won a majority of the popular vote, but Mr. Najib’s coalition won heavily in many rural constituencies, where he has strong popular support, to emerge with a 21-seat parliamentary majority.

Mr. Kalla said that the outcome of the balloting, held on a Sunday, was clear. “We had a commitment,” he said. “On Monday, I asked Anwar to accept it and look at reality. But they said, ‘No, no, no, no.’ ”

Mr. Kalla said Mr. Anwar approached him about an agreement two months ago, and they met at his Jakarta home. Mr. Anwar asked him to reach out to his opponent and secure his commitment for a peaceful election outcome, Mr. Kalla said.

At the time, Mr. Anwar was leading in voter surveys in Peninsular Malaysia, where most of the country’s 29 million people live. A victory by his alliance—a collection of Islamists, a mostly ethnic Chinese party and the largely urban secular party he leads—would have been an earthquake to an establishment controlled since 1957 by the coalition that Mr. Najib now leads.

Mr. Kalla had brokered peace agreements in various conflicts across the troubled Indonesian archipelago during his time as vice president from 2004 to 2009, and had roles in peace negotiations in Thailand and Sri Lanka. He said that he shuttled back and forth between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, meeting the Opposition leader and Mr. Najib.

Mr. Anwar sought Jusuf Kalla’s assistance to secure a mutual agreement between BN [Barisan Nasional, the National Front] and [Pakatan Rakyat] stating that both sides agreed to accept the results of the general election, even in the event of a slim majority by either side,” an adviser to Mr. Najib said. “The Prime Minister reiterated privately to Jusuf Kalla and in public before the election that BN would respect the will of the people and accept the election results, even if the opposition wins.”

Mr. Anwar said Mr. Kalla reached out to him to offer his assistance in ensuring an orderly outcome to the elections. “There were many friends around the region who were concerned about the transition of power and whether it would be peaceful,” he said.

Both candidates had pasts rich with fodder for personal attacks during the campaign. Mr. Anwar spent nearly six years in prison on sodomy and corruption convictions after failing to unseat his one-time mentor, Mahathir Mohamad, in 1998. The sodomy charge was overturned, and he was later acquitted on a second sodomy trial. Mr. Anwar consistently denied the charges.

Mr. Najib, meanwhile, has been subject to rumors widely disseminated inNajib A Razak the media—which he has denied—that he had an affair with a Mongolian model and translator who was later murdered. Two police officers were convicted in the murder. Mr. Najib hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.

Mr. Kalla said he fears that the longer the dispute between the two political leaders goes on, the divisions in Malaysia—among factions in the majority Malay Muslim group and between Malays and the ethnic Chinese minority—will harden and perhaps lead to violence.

Malaysia was racked by race riots in 1969 and Mr. Kalla’s neighboring country, Indonesia, has suffered repeated outbreaks of sectarian violence.

—Celine Fernandez in Kuala Lumpur contributed to this article.

Write to Patrick McDowell at and James Hookway at

A version of this article appeared May 25, 2013, on page A7 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Behind Malaysian Poll Protest, A Peace Deal That Collapsed.

26 thoughts on “Anwar broke a secret deal with Najib by protesting polls results, reveals WSJ

  1. True, both sides agreed to accept the results but what happened if one side cheated and won, will the other side willingly agreed to accept the results? Of course the winner through dubious way will claim the high moral ground and accuse the other of not having any intention to honour the deal, earning distrust and suspect to his character.

    If you cheat someone, don’t add insult to injury by saying that the one who is cheated is dishonourable and his character suspect if he objects and claims justice from the courts of opinion. That is hitting below the belt.

  2. Nothing is right until it is settled right.
    PR: Massive fraud in Pemilu 13.
    BN: No fraud at all, clean Pemilu.
    We the people: Bring on the evidence.

    What WSJ or any third party says is – as Justice Paul Augustine would say –
    NOT relevant.

  3. I would do the same if I were Anwar Ibrahim. If someone is not honouring the terms of a deal and playing dirty and cheating me on the deal, I will not honour the deal.

    And Jusuf Kala should not have gone public without knowing the full details of the reasons behind Anwar not respecting the poll outcome. Perhaps better for Pak Jusuf to just hang around Makassar and Palu and build his power plants and make money from PLN…

  4. JUsuf Kalla is from the same region as Najib, perhaps related, they are both Bugis, need I say more, ” and he hasn’t criticized Mr. Najib over the conduct of the election….Oouch!!!

  5. Can we Trust Anwar? Now, can we trust Najib, or even the truth of this article? Do we trust someone who champions change for the good of the country, or do we trust those in power who can effect change and refuses to do so? The choice is clear Mr. Hussein; in Saudara Anwar, Malaysia’s hope for change exist. In Najib and UMNO, it does not exist. One never trusts the words of a politician. Only what he or she does and when in the capacity to do so. That is what UMNO and BN needs to learn. They can effect change and are in the capacity to do so, BUT REFUSES TO DO SO. In Anwar and PKR they want change, but are still not in the capacity to do so, and in the minds of their supporters, will effect the changes if so given the opportunity. It is the same in you Mr. Hussein and me. We all are Malaysians. Either we choose to make our country a better place, or we don’t. Ask yourself, What is it in UMNO and Barisan Nasional that you place trust in that we the supporters of Anwar do not? And why don’t we trust Barisan Nasional and UMNO? If you want the answer – here it is. We do not trust Thieves and Bigots.

  6. Yesterday, I was at KK Terminal 2 fetching my daughter from Sarawak. I met someone who claimed to be a PR bigwig in the North of Sabah. He told me that at P168, the result was announced via a big screen. Form 14 was not issued and immediately after announcing the result policemen were called in to disperse the crowds in the hall.

    Ahmadi Hussein, U asked if one can trust Anwar. May I ask if Najib has no shame at all. Makan duit haram,.Small wonder why they have no qualm killing people.

  7. Ahmadi, both sides didn’t have any intention to honor the terms, so whats new. Najib wanted a mandate and promised best democracy ever. Are you witnessing best democracy being practised either before and after the election? It’s getting worse as far as I can see. Can’t honor his janji, love that comedy Janji Chapati. You ought to watch it if you haven’t.
    Whatever that maybe, Anwar should never get a third party like Kalla involved since it would embarrass the latter. The initiative for this involvement came from Anwar, according WSJ. I am not sure if he had consulted his partners in Pakatan before making such a move. Najib welcomes the initiative; it would cost him nothing since he had no intention to keep his part of the bargain.–Din Merican

  8. Who is Najib and Anwar to set deals outside of elections? Mate anything done has to be done over the board and in public , and outcome is election process driven. So this whole things is silly and now to cry you broke promise and no you first , it wholly silly. Grow up guys, Najib and Anwar no love lost, and this incident more opportunities to throw brick brats and news paper to fill another part of a page, oh i forgot, us commentators, gives us something over tea to talk about, plain gap filler with no substance

  9. The two of them must make a deal with the citizens of this country that they will run the country by the constitution, and consistent application of the rule of law. In short rule this country by the book.

    Even sports, today, is under threat because those with money think that they can add weights to the scale of justice and fair play.

  10. Why is this even news? Why did Najib even bother broker any deal? The guy who in his head has been ruling Putrajaya since, when was it? 2009? when he said he will take over putrajaya as result of mass defectors from BN to Pakatan? I can’t even remember. Too much garbage to keep track of. Anyhow, bottomline is you can’t broker a deal with a fantasist same way you can’t get into a contract with a certified crazy person. Najib should have known better.

    I think its high time Mr Ibrahim went for his Haj pilgrimage.

  11. Talking of principles, Anwar has never had any. The chameleon who is everything to everyone and all that he wants is being the PM

  12. Too much garbage to keep track…? you r right that we are screwed up not using our brains but going by one=sided prejudices – we ought to try & keep the middle ground !
    In the first place, this so-called Ag’ment or promises is not something direct between PM Najib and DSAI, it was brokered by HE Jusuf Kalla, the former Vice-president of Indonesia – who approached who ? HE is no ordinary ‘ witness ‘ to the background and antecedents when it was broached on that ‘promise’ to abide by the GE result. So its QED who reneged or resilled from that promise? – I would totally agree with Thumb Logic that we stick by the book and go by the proper legal avenue to the Court, rather than WE the masses getting riled up, and become riled up in the personal fight of the ” Gladiators ” to beguile all of us – just go by the book….lol !

  13. The Indonesian Politician is too naive for Malaysian Politics.

    The Media, the Judiciary, and the EC in Indonesia are unlike their Malaysia counterparts….

  14. Politics is like playing poker – may the best hand win. But there are irregularities and charges of cheating – the most obvious being what we have all experienced – the incredible, disappearing indelible marker.

    That by itself is a cause for a Western style cowboy shoot-out. May the faster and accurate draw triumph. The problem is that the good tends to miss and the bad and ugly tends to be inaccurate – like blaming a Chinese tsunami. So both have to redraw.

    Poker does not require referees. These fellas are just morons, thinking that they are playing cong-kat like the village idiots of yore – where every move is open to scrutiny! The referee in this case, is a compromised person, who despite his eloquence is unable to deal with his own demons. Sulawesi in his own backyard is a mess of ethnic and religious tensions. Who says he can broker anything? Look at Sri Lanka. Look at Thailand.

    Better learn to play mahjong my friends and stop wasting time at pointing your digits – when they can be put to better use – like picking your own nose..

  15. Ahmadi is right..Anwar can never be trusted, the reason why many of his once trusted friends left him in dire straits. Sanusi Junid, Mustaffa Kadir, Ezam, Chandra Muzaffar and many more who were some of his close allies that stood before him, however later regretted their decision associating with Anwar. Mahathir’s trust too was unfounded when Anwar decided to confront his boss (considered as ‘kurang ajar’ in Malay customs for a young chap confronting an elderly leader, who saved him from the ‘doldrums’ of political uncertainties). Najib should be wise enough in negotiating with Anwar, as he’s more villain in his political ‘surviving game’ compared to Pas who are more inclined to reconciliation. The unity of the Malays has always been considered of paramount important for the security and stability of this country.

  16. Dato Din,

    Please help explain this discrepancy….

    WSJ in the article mentioned that some leaders in the ASEAN capitals were concerned about possible violence after the election……… and thus Jusuf Kala the Bugis was called in to broker a deal etc etc……..

    Jusuf Kala himself said Anwar Ibrahim himself approached him with the initiative to broker a deal…….

    Who is speaking the truth?
    I have no reason to doubt Jusuf Kalla. –Din Merican

  17. If Mr Jusuf Kalla was afootball referee he would be what many would consider the 12 the player on the BN (Najib’s) team! He could have look hard and search deep into the recesses of the UMNO/BN T&C for the game of Politics Najib and his Predecessors have all the while played from 1976 – its gerrymandering and Fixed Deposits in rural Malaya and East Malaysia!
    IF he had pointed out earlier to Najib that his win MUST exclude the seats in Sabah and Sarawak, then he will know the score!
    Najib will NOT agree to the Pact or deal!
    Would anyone at all agree to the disproportionate ratio of 3BN seats is equivalent to 1 PR seats or 5.2 (48%) million votes to 5.6million (52%) PR vote?
    In his grossly corrupt Culture, perhaps!
    So JK cannot claim to subscribe to being clean and fair witness to the majority choice and voice in Malaysia GE13!

  18. What made Yusuf Kalla think that he would matter at all on something that he has no control at all from across the Straits? That he allowed himself to be drawn into ‘brokering’ speaks volumes about the ego of politicians when they handle matters for which they don’t need to answer or explain to anyone. It was a non-starter; it was still-born. Both sides pandered to Yusuf’s ego. If the chip had fallen the other way, Najib would be screaming murder by now. Anwar slipped this time – Najib had all the cards in his hand no matter what he promised Yusuf Kalla. Everything pointed to an expensive picnic party by UMNO. The issues that inspired Bersih 3.0 should have been a good reminder to Anwar that no third party should intervene even in a passive way, not even by the likes of Yusuf Kalla, who did not achieve anything worth remembering beyond the fact that he powered himself into office because he was filthy rich. PKR deserve to be led by someone else like Azmin or Datuk Khalid.

    Let us all prepare to pay the price for returning to office a party known for extravagance and for actively turning a blind eye to corruption and cronyism.

    “The best is yet to come,” someone has promised

  19. That’s right Dato Din….’no reason to doubt HE Jusuf Kalla ‘ , we can be sure it will be what the judges, a quorum of three, will say IF the matter is brought to Court between the disputants – HE’s version or DSAI’s as to who approached whom? Its a Q of veracity in Ct, and not what we ‘outsiders’ think which matters. That’s the very reason why Thumb Logic has voiced that we go by the book , and not go to the ‘streets’…..streets are for hawkers to ply their daily trade….

  20. To begin with do we need two Mat Sallehs to tell us about a deal brokered by Yusuf Kalla? Based on past revelations we can safely conclude that the two were paid by the Malaysian rakyat to promote DS Najib and malign Anwar.

    Questions have been posed by readers as to whether Anwar can be trusted. Well, more than 51% of the electorate said YES is GE13, didn’t they?

    If Mr Yusuf Kalla is an honorable man, he would not have poked his nose into Malaysian affairs especially when GE13 was going to be a close-fought affair, and then reveal to the world that DS Anwar can’t be trusted to honour an agreement. In the first place an agreement is only an agreement when both parties engage in a level playing field.

    Offering the Opposition 10 minutes airtime and that too with the proviso of subject to editing before airing is not exactly level playing field. If Mr Yusuf Kalla wants to play the role of a global mediator he should draw up a set of rules for himself first – eg “I shall not disparage parties to an agreement under whatever circumstances.”

    As to the comment that DS Anwar’s character is suspect as he has lost some close associates, I can’t help saying “Good riddance to bad rubbish” as people left him not to due to high moral principles but for greener pastures eg senatorship (Ezam and Nallakaruppan), “global” role of a thinker (Chandra), etc. Look at what Tunku Aziz is doing to DAP today – one who is supposed to be an intelligent person joined the party out of his own volition and benefited by being appointed Vice President and nominated to be a Senator – he is today disparaging the party and its leaders as though God has suddenly enlightened him to DAP’s vile plans to destroy Malaysia.

    Can we trust all these guys but not DS Anwar? Well, as I said earlier. 51% of Malaysian voters can’t be that dumb!

  21. What drove Anwar to approach Jusuf Kalla for this agreement was perhaps his confidence of winning as reflected by the opinion surveys favourable to him. Now this exposure has worsened Anwar’s trustworthiness and credibility. I doubt the agreement was a written one as reported but if it were so, any prejudgement is not fair to any parties without the document being made publicly available.

  22. The fact that they secrectly agreed to adhere to some ground rules tells us that the news is good .there is no absolutely right or wrong with these political animals, because they just shift the goal posts. Therefore the right minded citizens should join the fray and steer the country to higher dry grounds. DDM and people like madam Ambiga are doing a wonderful work. We salute the great NGOs around us.

  23. Just learned from Dr. Tun…”no alternative”. To trust Anwar or not is a good question. But James Chua answered them well, “in Saudara Anwar, Malaysia’s hope for change exist. In Najib and UMNO, it does not exist”.

    In times like this we have to chose between two devils and in reality some devils are better than others. Some have principles, codes that they will never breached. Anwar has that principles and codes that are acceptable by 54% of Malaysian. Anwar is then the better devil. A wrong when used in the right timing can be right.

    So Ahmadi Hussein, screw you with the “trust” thing. What has BN did for Malaysian when we trusted them for the past 55 years?

    Malaysia was a country respected by many. We were one of the economic tiger in Asia. But now we are governed by pussies led by a pussy under the thumbs of a tigress from home.

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