The Handshake that can rattle the beleaguered Al-Kebas aka Malaysian Official 1

September 6, 2016

The Handshake that can rattle the beleaguered Al-Kebas aka Malaysian Official 1

by Abdar Rahman Koya

A reconciliation between Anwar and Mahathir can ignite the spark needed to address the opposition’s biggest weakness: political lethargy and incoherence.

Image result for Anwar meets Mahathir

For those of us whose exposure to Malaysian politics began in 1998, yesterday’s handshake between Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim was surreal and, of course, historic.

Eighteen years ago, the forty-something among us today had just graduated into a volatile economy, only to find ourselves thrust into the streets every Saturday afternoon punching the air and shouting slogans demanding Mahathir’s resignation.

Young adults of that era would have moved on today, getting busy with bread and butter issues and probably having to deal with protests by their young ones that would now and then flare up at home.

Yet, most will agree that the 1998-1999 period was the best of times and the worst of times for Malaysia.

It was during this period that Kuala Lumpur witnessed some of the largest anti-government rallies in its history, and they came at a time when it was taboo to even mention the idea of toppling Mahathir, someone who had given himself the image of the Great Leader.

A rare explosion of opposition rallied under one leader armed with his charisma and singled out another leader as the source of all of the country’s ills. It struck a chord that has kept playing for 18 years, during which time Anwar and Mahathir proved themselves to be the two toughest nuts in Malaysian politics.

Giving credit where it’s due, Anwar with his countless charges and court appearances, and now serving a second imprisonment, has remained committed to his cause. And it doesn’t matter that he has a personal ambition to be prime minister or that he has shown incorrigible optimism in an opposition force that has repeatedly proven to be dysfunctional if not in disarray.

Image result for Al Kebas Malaysian Official 1

Mahathir, on the other hand, has come up from being a symbol of hatred among the Malays for his treatment of Anwar to someone who left office retaining much of the goodwill he gained during Malaysia’s rise as an economic powerhouse in the mid-nineties, when mega structures gave tell-tale signs of an economic bubble waiting to burst.

The institutionalisation of Mahathir in Malaysian politics means that no matter what he does or says, his legacy will be hard to erase.

The present administration knows this too well. It is after all saddled with his legacies, which have become national symbols, whether or not they are failures or successes, Proton being one example and Putrajaya another.

The truth is that Mahathir is not going away easily from the Malaysian conscience. His is a legacy solidly kept within concrete walls, not unlike the time capsule he cleverly planted behind a plaque with his name on it at the Kuala Lumpur Tower. And then there are the many other mega structures that so characterised his rule, all probably containing messages he wrote that a future prime minister may be forced to read out long after his demise.

Image result for kuala lumpur skyline wallpaper day

Now that the two greatest political animals have met and made amends, the question to be asked is: At what price? It is true both are driven by a sense of desperation, but remember that in politics, desperation can be a necessity.

Will the Anwar-Mahathir handshake lead to an explosion of nostalgia from that large segment of the population that is composed of those who have lived much of their lives under their leadership?

Image result for kuala lumpur Tower

If there is this nostalgia and if a Anwar-Mahathir rapprochement succeeds in exploiting it, it is time for the other camp to be worried and not simply dismiss the two as political has-beens trying to jump start an engine which has rusted.

Nostalgia has worked wonders before, sometimes with dire consequences, of course. Many political movements all over the world have been fueled by remembrances of glorious pasts. For example, the Taliban’s longing for medieval times once took Afghanistan by storm, and Hitler’s drum beating of a great race led to his meteoric rise.

Nostalgia today is replayed again in Europe. Indeed, nowhere was its potential more mistakenly dismissed than when Britons voted in droves to get out of the European Union last June.

It is this type of nostalgia that the Najib administration should be worried about, now that the 91-year-old Mahathir has taken the trouble to see his nemesis.

This is not merely the coming together of two leaders who have fought from opposite poles and stood the test of time, but potentially the ignition of the spark needed to address the opposition’s biggest weakness: political lethargy.

If Najib dismisses the handshake as anything less than it was, it will be to his own peril.

12 thoughts on “The Handshake that can rattle the beleaguered Al-Kebas aka Malaysian Official 1

  1. Maybe this is the galvanizing moment for the political opposition or am I reading too much into this Mahathir contrived move. What do you think, Ambassador Malott et. al. –Din Merican

  2. Anwar(w PH) + Mahathr (ex-UMNO) Vs. Najib’s BN + Hadi’s PAS, sorry but its not enough. I will say it again, without Islamic Reformation, the Malays cannot will self-change. So, only other way is have change forced on to them which only self-collapse will make happen..

  3. In the 60s it was common talk that if you eat at a Mamak Restaurant the chances are that the Dal Cha you are about to have with your roti channai would most likely have traces of the ingredients that were first used when the shop was opened. But today that is no longer the case, I am assured by usually reliable sources. That is the kind of change these restaurants had to make to be so popular with all Malaysians today. I leave this on the steps of your house.

  4. Mahathir, given his age, has limited time in hand. He should seize the moment to knock out Najib and UMNO. This looks more possible with Mahathir-Anwar burying the hatchet and working together. It is possible to galvanise the ground and unseat Najib and secure a comfortable victory for the Mahathir-Anwar-DAP combine at the next GE. It would not matter if PAS swings 100% to UMNO side as they will be digging their own grave. Important caveat: substantial seats have to be won from Sabah and Sarawak and for this key opposition figures from the two states need to be taken in confidence and negotiations started with them to assuage their doubts and guarantee their autonomy, increase of oil royalty and more control over staff placement (with local people) in the civil service and government agencies in the state. The attraction of Mahathir-Anwar partnership should smoothen such negotiations and considerably strengthen the chances of opposition there to win critical number of seats. A 50% share of the “fixed deposit” is good enough to pack off Najib and company.

    A minimum program manifesto should be a stirring one that can fire up the people. Three basic inclusions should cover:

    (i) Seeking the release of Anwar and making him the PM at the earliest possible opportunity (A new government can explore lodging an appeal against his conviction or seek a royal pardon. This may take a year or two, including the time – if and when he is freed – he may need to contest in a by-election to win a seat. For the interim period, Mahathir’s nominee can be appointed as a stop-gap PM with the consent and support of the DAP)

    (ii) Arresting and charging Najib for the various alleged crimes he is said to have committed

    (iii) a 10-20 year program to overhaul the civil service and government agencies to make placements in them more equitable representing 65% Malays and 35% non-Malays.
    You have not included the economic agenda. No NEP nonsense. Arrest all corrupt UMNO politicians, not just Najib.–Din

  5. I don’t think it was merely contrived. It was choreographed no doubt and from both sides of the divide. Azmin was the key mediator who bides the time and circumstances, that Jibros forgot about – cuz they assumed everybody was as mercenary as themselves..

    From what i’ve heard from UMNOb stalwarts (emphasis on the warts), Octo truly cherished Anwar before their falling out in the late 90’s. Being an egomaniac, he will never apologize – but his actions will show for themselves. He is the master of deception and Machiavellian to the core. His motives and words are deliberate and purposeful. Even though he has been wrong many times, his goals were Nationalistic, that went awry. All his Proxies could do, was to watch and wait for him to come to his senses.

    Kak Wan had given TSMY sound endorsement for the nascent Bersatu – both personally and on behalf of the Oppo – but it would mean little if PKR, Amanah and even PAS grassroots do not support it in the boondocks. Hatred, vengeance and despair achieves nothing. What was needed, is a very public reconciliation between mortal enemies. That was what i had alluded to 2-3 days back.

    With this gesture, the circle is complete. The Serpent is swallowing it own Tail – Ouroboros and Causality. It is pre-Ego, but i think i wouldn’t want to belabor our friends here.

    So now, the UMNOb Rats are jumping up and down on the Hot Tin Roof – and reacting as if they speaking on behalf of the Oppo.. Fascinating.. But, Vientiane, is not a nice place to retire – too ‘primitive’.

    Like the First ‘Crusade’, i’d be very cautious to predict how this will play out, but it might be a massacre come October or a GE-14 by April-May.

  6. I would rather wait and see, as politics is very flimsy and elusive in Bolehland. Notwithstanding that, I gladly welcome the coming to terms of two sworn enemies. Something eventful is bound to happen and if it means the ouster of a despicable and corrupt PM and his morally abject wife, I am all for it. Touche…
    Tok Cik,

    PKR should relaunch the Free Anwar campaign.–Din Merican

  7. Agree with Tok Cik, especially his third sentence.

    An increasingly alarmed Lenin joining forces with the charismatic Trotsky to oust Stalin. A positive development for the country.
    (But must remember that Stalin is cunning and a skilled political operator. The original Trotsky – who looked down on the original Stalin – learned this to the former’s great cost).

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