Anwar’s critics have amnesia

As they question his rise to power, they seem to have forgotten the basis of PKR's struggle was to free Anwar from incarceration

The Port Dickson by-election has unexpectedly become a controversy for some Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leaders and the party's supporters.

Suddenly, Mr Anwar Ibrahim has found himself being openly challenged by some of the top brass for his purported failure to consult them on the selection of the coastal town for a by-election and why his wife or daughter were not asked to vacate their seats instead.

Mr Anwar is now being accused of nepotism, and those who have defiantly questioned the move include prominent lawyer S. Ambiga, who is closely linked to Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Even the issue of race has cropped up in social media, with some demanding why an Indian MP had to be sacrificed for the PKR president.

Others have suggested that Mr Anwar is an impatient man and he should wait until the next general election in five years' time for his turn.

Perhaps he could be named senator first and save the big bucks needed for a by-election.

Some of these politicians have suddenly developed amnesia, it seems, now that they hold positions in government.

They seem to have forgotten the pledge made to Malaysians was for Mr Anwar to be pardoned and released from his incarceration.

In fact, that was the basis of the PKR struggle - to free Mr Anwar, who had to live with the unofficial title of de facto PKR leader. He was the party boss, even while languishing behind bars for 11 years.


Love him or loathe him, only Mr Anwar can glue the PH government in Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's absence.

It is not about competence or ability but about holding a government together.

All his harshest critics would admit that, even if reluctantly.

Mr Anwar is also the only one who can man the fort against opponents such as Umno, Parti Islam SeMalaysia and the right wingers who wield race and religion like weapons.

He was the man who issued press statements from jail, even as we wondered how he did it.

And, of course, we remember all those street protests under different names and colours, all essentially for a singular purpose - to free him.

It must be surprising to Mr Anwar to learn about the rebellious remarks made by some self-important key personalities for his need to first earn their approval and then consult them to contest in a by-election.

Suggestions of deceit abound, and no wonder, what with decisions made shrouded in secrecy.

And there we were thinking it was clear that Mr Anwar would contest a by-election, get into Parliament and wait for his turn to be prime minister.

Dr Mahathir has proclaimed that he would hand the torch to Mr Anwar and honour the agreement by the four partners of the PH alliance to step down after two years.

So the question is, how can Mr Anwar be the successor if he is not an MP?

It is pointless being the prime minister-in-waiting if one is not elected.

We could not give two hoots about the charade and antics of politicians.

We want certainty, stability and succession planning.

Dr Mahathir is already 93, and it is just physically impossible to expect him to be prime minister until the next general election.

We cannot allow the rigours of the job to take their toll on him.


A video of him walking wobbly circulated recently.

Mr Anwar being named successor and elected into Parliament will provide more comfort because otherwise, an ugly scramble for power is bound to ensue.

We do not really care if Mr Anwar chooses Port Dickson, Puncak Borneo or Timbuktu, because we are all suffering from the fatigue of election fever, which never seems to cease in Malaysia as they come in all forms and temperatures.

Then there is the issue of family dynasty, but let us not get into this because the Lim brood has two MPs and a senator, the Karpal clan has two MPs and one state assemblyman, and of course, there is Dr Mahathir and his Menteri Besar son.

Malaysians are familiar with this situation, and how most of these individuals got elected is proof that it has never been an issue.

But we should create a racket if Mr Anwar is prime minister and his daughter, Ms Nurul Izzah Anwar, becomes a minister while his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, still remains deputy prime minister.

You can count your bottom ringgit, though, that is neither going to happen nor will it be allowed to happen.

The writer is The Star media group's managing director/chief executive officer. This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the paper.