February 11, 2015
In the Aftermath of Sodomy 2 Verdict: Winners and Losers
WINNERSPrime Minister Najib Abdul Razak
The Prime Minister will likely earn international brickbats for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s guilty verdict as the perception is that it is politically motivated.
But it is a small price to pay for Najib as this will help to strengthen his UMNO support base which has been advocating tougher action against the opposition.The Premier has been under siege for being too ‘soft’ on his political opponents and Anwar’s jailing as well as the PM’s u-turn on the abolition of the Sedition Act last year is expected to improve his shaky position.
Any damage to Najib’s international reputation is likely negated by the fact that Washington sees Malaysia as a key state in its look east policy involving the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and as a moderate Muslim ally.
Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan
Since alleging he was sodomised by his former boss Anwar in 2008, he has had to endure almost seven years of ridicule. That is unlikely to stop nor will the perception dissipate that he was a tool to end Anwar’s political career. Now, he can finally say he is vindicated by seeing Anwar behind bars.
Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
This former Prime Minister who launched the whole episode by sacking Anwar in 1998 was far from happy when his arch-nemesis was set free during the tenure of his (Mahathir’s) successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2004.Mahathir had then described Abdullah’s move as a ‘mistake’ and is likely to be pleased that the so-called ‘mistake’ has finally been rectified.Abdul Hadi Awang
The PAS President has never been able to see eye-to-eye with Anwar after taking on a more prominent role following PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat’s retirement. The clash boiled over during the Selangor menteri besar crisis.
Abdul Hadi is seen to be resentful of Anwar with some PAS members appearing to be more supportive of the PKR leader than their own party President.The PAS President’s supporters, however, have made it clear they want Abdul Hadi as Prime Minister if Pakatan Rakyat wins instead of Anwar and the opposition leader’s jailing means Abdul Hadi can finally move out of his shadow.
The obvious name at the top of the list, this 67-year-old politician will be behind bars for the third time in his life.Even if he serves his full sentence, Anwar will still be subjected to a five-year ban from politics upon his release as per the law. This means Anwar will be out of politics for close to a decade, making the likelihood of him pulling off another unprecedented comeback rather remote.His Family
Since his sacking in 1998, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and the couple’s six children have been on a roller-coaster ride. Today, for the second time in almost 16 years, they are forced to bid farewell to Anwar as he is carted off to prison. The only difference being that now, there are also grandchildren to be left behind.
The party formed following the jailing of Anwar in 1999 finds itself in a familiar yet uncomfortable scenario. Anwar is often considered PKR’s raison d’être and the main uniting force behind its members who come from a very wide range of ideologies.
The coming months will be crucial as the party attempts to adjust itself to life without Anwar. Worse still, the void left by Anwar may open the floodgates for a power struggle among the party’s many second tier leaders.
Anwar goes to jail at a time when the opposition coalition is in a precarious situation.
Permatang Pauh voters
Anwar’s jailing means he will be disqualified as Permatang Pauh MP, paving the way for a by-election. This means the voters of Permatang Pauh will go to the polls for the fourth time in less than seven years to decide on their MP.
In 2008, their then MP Wan Azizah resigned just four months after being elected to pave the way for her husband’s return to Parliament.
Anwar was re-elected in 2013, but must now vacate his seat following his jailing today, less than two years later.
The real losers are Malaysian voters. The two-party system is considerably weakened by internal bickering in Pakatan Rakyat. Without Anwar, I cannot envisage an arrangement whereby DAP and PAS can work together in common cause, given their ideological differences, and the erratic behaviour of PAS President Hadi Awang. Now they will start to haggle over who will succeed Anwar Ibrahim as Parliamentary Opposition Leader.Would they accept Azmin Ali as compromise? Or will Lim Kit Siang take over?
As far as UMNO is concerned, developments in Pakatan Rakyat will give Najib breathing space to demonstrate to his party if he can be decisive (tegas) and strong (kuat) in dealing with pressing economic and social challenges and addressing the demands of the conservative wing of UMNO on Malay rights and Islam. Will the forces of change in UMNO led by Tun Dr Mahathir and Tun Daim retreat? I see interesting developments ahead for Malaysia.– Din Merican