“When you are in opposition, someone raises a question and you say, “Good question. Thank you.” Another person raises a question and you reply, “Good question. Thank you.” When you are in Government, you have to provide the answer and not an answer.” – Tony Blair in his resignation speech, May 9th, 2007
The bloggers were polite and perceptive to his request for “gimme me a break” from questions on past issues and alleged “perception created by the media” like the “American…” link and all. We are quite a civil bunch to understand that it is rude and poor taste to be adversarial to ones host, who has been hospitable and provided us this opportunity. Having to resist many temptations to ask more provocative questions, I kept "Rambling On My Mind" throughout the session.
As one experienced in government, opposition, and activism, I felt Anwar was merely giving “an answer” of what was wrong, and what we are not. Our discussion dwelled on current political affair. Most of his answers and position are similar to his public statements. So I’ll highlight the ones I find interesting.
The first issue asked was about his relationship with Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK), the papa blogger as some are calling him that was behind his Free Anwar Campaign website and now Malaysia Today. After the complimentary words, I picked some interesting words like “expected” obligations, “commitment that could not be fulfilled” and he “had no choice coming out of prison”.
My rambling mind was screaming inside wondering why the bloggers were quiet. Perhaps, some are still in awe or still in their polite mode to leave this issue hanging unpursued. Probably, many of us there did not have any idea what it was about.
Expectedly, the issue of Ijok by-election cropped up many times. When asked, if the Ijok by-election loss was the beginning of PKR's demise and the end of his political career, he was somewhat deflecting it with allegations of massive cheating and denial to speak at political rallies. He even claimed Tun Dr Mahathir supported them.
That claim was refuted. He replied with compliments of Tun’s intelligence, grasp and understanding on issues. Perhaps, he was testing the influence of Tun on this set of bloggers.
That brought about a question for him and Tun to patch up. Strangely he said and I quote, “I told Al Gore the same thing recently … lets move on.” He then described of his chance meeting with a former judge at an Airport and said “Sudah-sudah … move on” when embraced.
My rambling mind was trying to figure out whether Al Gore was an endogenous or exogenous variable in this equation of Anwar Ibrahim. Perhaps, he is a statistical outliers? If he is forgiving and moving on, I wonder why the need for that lawsuit on Tun. He did touch on it which I heard as words to preempt in the event the lawsuit is thrown out.
One blogger pursued further on PKR’s current precarious position to ask should he is willing to take on Pak Lah at Kepala Batas. This is a situation Sun Tzu described as a cornered and wounded tiger fighting back. His reply was an uncommitted, “Thats interesting …”
He acknowledged it is not easy. Rocky steered him out of that difficult position to say Dato Seri needs to stay for the long run. Somehow Dato Seri seemed to have a restless eye that day and he frequently looked at Rocky. I was rambling and thinking that this is a bet everything situation for him.
Still that seasoned fighter and politican
There were issues raised about him holding back personal criticism on the Prime Minister and yet his campaign against Dato Najib in the Ijok by-election was personal. There was a more serious tone to his voice as he denied both allegations.
While he acknowledged “you (all) are more critical of Abdullah than me,” he clarified that he has stated in "strong terms" like incompetent and corrupt to describe Abdullah’s administration. My rambling mind was telling me that without specifics, such general accusations is meaningless in Malaysian politics. This is where lies the rising conspiracy of a covert agreement between Anwar and certain parties within UMNO.
He mentioned about some interesting request he gets from family members back in Permatang Pauh that “interlock” with Pak Lah’s. He was asked to hold back his criticism of Pak Lah for reasons he is an Ulamak’s grandson. The typical rural Malay mind.
On the issue of being personel with Dato Najib, Anwar insist that it is not and highlighted that he has documents to support his allegation. I was quite aware of issues raised by Rustam Sani (read here) regarding the polemics betwen Ahmad Zaki Yamani (read here) and Anwar. My mind was rambling and remembering his defiance words “saya tak takut” from any lawsuit and to discuss issues deemed sub-judicial in public.
One blogger raised interfaith issues. He commented more on the attitude of both PAS and the “super liberals”. He claimed Malik Imtiaz refused a dialogue with the Muslim groups. My rambling thought was that he fell short from stating his position. He was merely giving a politically correct answer for a need to hold a talk. As it is, certain quarters in ABIM, PKPIM and former Keadilan expressed their impresion of his pro-Article 11 leaning.
There was one suggestion for PKR to aim for state control. Expectedly, Anwar said about looking at holistically. My rambling mind was reminded of Keadilan’s aggressive move in Sabah and an issue raised by blogger Rudin X on Kelantan (read here). That is “a damn if I do and damn if I don’t” situation.
Understanding a seasoned and polish politician and former student activist like Anwar requires more than merely his spoken words. Maybe one need to know what is not answered and how it is answered.
“The answers” I had hoped for came towards the end as he announced the Kongres Nasional Tahunan Pemuda Ke 4. Now I understood what the request for today’s session was for. Anyway, he said the emphasis of discussion at the Convention will be on Economics and Election Commission. I understand Economic as manifesto and Election Commission as election strategy.
When Tony Blair’s quote was mentioned, he said of the need for a clear agenda and to deny Barisan Nasional’s 2/3 majority. That he felt would bring about the dismantling of the system he deemed as corrupt. He expressed PKR’s economic agenda of dismantling DEB and improving the deteriorating International benchmark of Malaysia with regard to corruption, competitiveness, and government financial management.
Affirmative action based on race was to be removed and for a more transparent program. He felt poor Malay would benefit, without poor non Malay being denied. There would be special program for Malays to improve their education and competitiveness. My rambling mind was asking. Isn’t that also DEB? Isn’t that also in Article 153?
PKR’s proposed an economic agenda to, among others, “bite the bullet” and embrace globalisation. Where did I hear that? Isn’t that the sound of a familiar bell from a distant past and is already ringing loudly these days?
It is a good intention to “baik sangka” and give him a break but remember the lesson we should be learning now. Leadership of this country is a decision that needs careful and thoughtful decision. If Anwar is serious and sincere on all these issues, there are many ways he can play his roles. It doesn't have to be only in politics.
Yes, Anwar, lets move on. I'll be waiting for "the answer" of yours.