May 20, 2016
Cmdr (rtd) Thayaparan on Anwar Ibrahim Letter from Prison
“This was my first real lesson in politics… If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, hatchet, and the chisel to make a boat with, why, go and make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven’t, so with men.”
COMMENT by S. Thayaparan @www,malaysiakini.com–I have never had a problem defending political prisoner, Anwar Ibrahim.
Isn’t it always the case? You believe in the system until the system comes after you. Those of us, who were part of the system, find ourselves having to justify or defend our histories with the system. Anwar is the reason why there is a viable opposition after the long UMNO watch. Anwar is also the reason why the opposition sometimes finds itself in a quandary.
Tun Dr. Mahathir claims to be under House Arrest–Believe him?
Personality politics is treacherous. I have often described former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the de facto opposition leader of this country. Meanwhile imprisoned, vilified – sometimes even by opposition supporters as a has-been, chameleon or charlatan – Anwar has been forced to send scribbled missives through paper or brief exchanges in court, all the while attempting to maintain control of a fractured opposition, by proxy or goodwill. To my mind, he is still the de jure opposition leader of this country.
I cringe whenever I read some opposition supporter refer to the former Prime Minster as “evil”. What does it say about the masses who legitimately voted his party in all those years knowing he was at the helm? What does it say about the people who coalesce around him in the belief that it would damage a corrupt regime?
More importantly, what does it say about the evil that created concentration camps, perpetrated chemical attacks, perpetrated genocides or believe that collateral damage is an appropriate way to spread democracy?
In the same vein, painting Anwar as some sort of saviour who is the magic bullet to the UMNO cancer is self-defeating, indulgent propaganda of the worse kind. It promises everything but delivers nothing. A shrill clarion call to inaction of putting our collective destiny in another’s hand, while doing no hard work but voting. Change by proxy instead of being the change you want.
Which is why his letter to members of his cadre is timely and a little bit ironic. Timely because it puts the focus back on Anwar as a political leader when in recent times, the spotlight has shone on his nemesis, Mahathir, and ironic because of late, the Citizens’ Declaration has lost momentum buried beneath the Sarawak state elections and continuing scandals of current Prime Minster Najib Razak.
While there is merit in the claims that the letter is part of an ongoing power struggle between potentates within PKR, this does not detract from the reality that the letter is also a powerful reminder of the realpolitik that fuels oppositional politics.
While I have been sceptical of the Declaration, I have attempted with interviews with the personalities behind it, including Mahathir, to provide a platform for these diverse political personalities and let the rakyat decide if this is a good strategic move.
Anwar’s letter, therefore, addresses certain issues that has been allowed to simmer in the background, while the main agenda of removing Najib, comes to a boil.
Bridge needs to be built
Kudos to Malaysiakini for highlighting the main points of Anwar’s letter. As for Mahathir’s continued attacks on his former protégé, that is to be expected. Mahathir has never attempted to camouflage this Declaration as anything beyond removing the current President of UMNO. His continued attack on Anwar is merely a continuation of his war with a political rival.
While Anwar has been magnanimous is his overtures to form consensus with political adversaries for a greater good, the unrepentent former Prime Minster continues to demonstrate that he needs no consensus, only force his will and agenda to sustain the fight against his current nemesis. Whether this will prove his undoing remains to be seen.
Seed of PKR’s self destruction: “…the idealism which once fired PKR appears to have been doused by the lustre of power and funds”–Anwar Ibrahim
However, of greater concern is when Anwar says, “…the idealism which once fired PKR appears to have been doused by the lustre of power and funds”. Anyone who knows anything about the political funding of the opposition would know that the opposition has diverse streams of funding from the unlikeliest of sources.
Actually, it is incestuous. Rich men with money are always hedging their bets. The average opposition supporter would be shocked by who funds whom. Plutocrats who are routinely mocked on in the comment sections of Malaysiakini and the other “alternative” news (sic) sources, have always been amenable to funding potentially powerful power structures. Money politics isn’t just an UMNO thing.
However, the inclusion of Mahathir in the opposition mix has also granted the opposition with a new source of funding with the aim of toppling Najib. Now, not everyone avails themselves to this new funding source but there are many, who find that it is easier getting down to the work of removing Najib when they don’t have to worry about funding to sustain their position. Mind you, this is not solely a PKR problem.
Ambiga Sreenevasan made a well-reasoned argument that the Declaration was bridge which connected UMNO and Harapan supporters. Anwar’s letter is a reminder that the bridge needs to be built on a solid foundation.
Even if you do not buy that and believe that, the letter is part of a strategy to discredit certain factions within PKR using the polarising figure of Mahathir as a weapon of mass distraction, the words in the letter, the issues raised should be of concern to opposition supporters.
Here is what Mahathir said when questioned on his trust deficit amongst opposition supporters.
“It is not a question of trusting me. It is a question of getting together to do something that we hold common views. Both the opposition and myself think that Najib is a problem for Malaysia. If Najib is there, the opposition will suffer. If Najib is there, even UMNO will suffer, the whole country will suffer. I think the opposition is not supporting me, they are interested in removing Najib. I have the same interest. It is okay to work together – only on that issue, not on other issues.” (Dr. Mahathir)
Everyone should heed Anwar’s words but ultimately another Hamlet quote comes to mind:“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”