BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
March 07, 2014
Barisan Nasional (BN) got what it wanted. Datuk Seri Najib Razak got what he wanted. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad got what he wanted. Tun Daim Zainuddin got what he wanted.
Heck, any Umno politician will be celebrating today. The man who could have ended it all for Umno is back where they want him to be – in jail.
And this time, the keys will be thrown away, finally ending the political career of a man who has withstood 15 years of sledgehammer treatment from his political opponents, BN.
Here are some initial thoughts from today’s court decision.
a) Najib Razak
The weakest Prime Minister in history has bought himself some time. His political opponents in Umno will now give him some credit for taking their nemesis out of the picture. The appointment of Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah as the prosecutor was down to the PM, a rare, rare move which showed how much Putrajaya wanted the win.
With Anwar behind bars, Najib would also have one less formidable adversary to contend with. For a prime minister with an approval rating of just about 50%, any advantage is desirable. But Najib should not celebrate too long: there is still a groundswell of anger over the rising cost of living and the excesses of the first family.
Then there are his opponents in Umno. They need to be fed. All the time.
b) Dr Mahathir Mohamad
The former prime minister was mightily unhappy when the Federal Court released Anwar Ibrahim in 2006. He chalked it down as another failing of his successor turned punching bag, Tun Abdullah Badawi.
The fact that a resurgent Anwar galvanised, nurtured and eventually, led Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to shatter the myth of invincibility of BN at the polls in 2008 only served to turn up Dr Mahathir’s antipathy towards Abdullah.
Since his release, Anwar has been a thorn in the side of Dr Mahathir and in the run-up to the May 5th elections, the PKR leader hammered away at the former PM’s Achilles heel: his children’s astronomical wealth.
Apart from bare denials, Dr Mahathir could not offer any other comeback. The thought of Anwar as Menteri Besar, presiding over the richest state in Malaysia, would have been all too much for Dr Mahathir.
After all, the plan was to end his political career in 1998.
c) Khalid Ibrahim.
He will remain as the Selangor Menteri Besar. Nothing more needs to be said. The contest for PKR’s number two position now becomes even more important.
d) Shafee Abdullah.
This win puts him closer to his ultimate wish: to replace Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as the Attorney General. Not bad for someone who been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently.
e) Anwar Ibrahim.
By showing his hand and announcing that he planned to become the Menetri Besar of Selangor, Anwar inadvertently galvanised all the forces against him. Yes, there was a fair amount of bluster about his ambitions, but his foes in Umno (especially those from the Mahathir era) were spooked.
They understood the grave consequences for Umno in the richest state if Anwar did a decent job as MB. And they understood the danger of Anwar having a platform. Any platform. He had to be finished off before he became the Selangor MB.
The picture is bleak for the opposition leader personally. One major consolation: PR’s continued gains in GE13, where it snared 52% of the popular vote, showed that many Malaysians want change.
Another nugget to digest: Umno’s support among all the races has dropped significant since May 5. So maybe the lesson is this: personalities matter, but not as much as the public’s desire for change.
f) The judiciary.
The less said, the better.
g) Rafizi Ramli, Saifuddin Nasution, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Tony Pua, Salahuddin Ayub and others.
With Anwar locked up, it is time for the younger PR leaders to step up and play a more central role in uniting the opposition and pushing for a more formal structure.
A great orator and campaigner, Anwar was less inclined to handle the nuts and bolts of the coalition. As a result, there was too much ad hoc decision-making. Time for a proper PR leadership council that meets every fortnight.
h) International condemnation.
Do not expect US President Barack Obama to tick off Malaysia or even cancel his trip here next month. It is not going to happen. Washington is too pre-occupied with taming Putin’s Russia.
Also, the Obama administration has been less emphatic to the woes of opposition politicians in Malaysia. All they care about is whether Malaysia is going to sign that Pacific trade treaty and whether Kuala Lumpur is a good friend in the fight against terrorism. – March 7, 2014.