Anwar Ibrahim has squandered whatever advantages he was given by the electorate in the 12th general election.
Lose the Malay votes and Umno will lose the government. Whatever the Malays have expected Umno president and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to do he has done or is in the process of doing or has promised to do.
“Ketuanan Melayu” (Malay supremacy) is the very foundation of Umno’s being. Islam is a work in progress and he has spared no effort in its promotion and advancement. And what he has promised the Malays after winning the right to govern is a renewal of Umno’s commitment to Malay supremacy.
What else will the Malays want Umno to do?
For a start, there is the credibility factor within Umno.
When there is truth in the things that are being said against its own people, Umno understands that even God himself cannot save Umno from the wrath of the electorate.
The sorry state of affairs that is the NFC (National Feedlot Corporation) has now irrefutably destroyed the credibility of Shahrizat (Abdul Jalil, Umno Wanita chief) even before the court has an opportunity to confirm it.
The Malays can understand defeat at the polls. But they cannot understand son-in-laws running amok on the fourth floor of the Prime Minister’s Department, a wife with a penchant for Hermes handbags who insists on being designated FLOM (First Lady of Malaysia), children of ex-prime ministers with insane wealth who are given Cabinet posts and a wife who feigns ignorance of her husband’s purchase of RM10 million condos.
The Malays do not take too kindly to people thumbing their nose at them while riding the gravy train.
Even if Umno does not have credible leaders within its ranks, the illusion that it has, must be maintained. And so Shahrizat has to go.
PKR’s lost its ‘advantage’
Which brings us to the interesting situation of Anwar Ibrahim and the Malay votes.
While he was in Umno the pandering to the Malay votes was an all-consuming passion for Anwar.
Most notably, Anwar as education minister went to great lengths to have Bahasa reinstated as the language of choice in educating the people of Malaysia.
That decision has had far-reaching implication until today. We will each have our own thoughts on this but suffice to say that today Anwar seeks to distance himself from the decisions that he then made as education minister.
Today, Anwar projects a vastly different image from what he was then. It would be fair to say that at best, his rapport with the Malays is contentious and at worst, he is no longer a credible threat to Najib in getting the Malay votes.
It is so because Anwar has squandered whatever advantages he has been given by the electorate in the 12th general election. So where does his future lies?
I will not concern myself too much with what the 13th general election might hold for Anwar because the best anyone can do here is to hazard an educated guess to the possibilities.
So, let us deal with the present.
Anwar showed us that he could walk over water when he was acquitted of Sodomy II. And then like in all of Anwar’s greatest triumphs in the past, he failed to seize the moment.
While in Umno, he schemed and plotted to be deputy prime minister, succeeded, and then promptly lost himself in the plotting and ended up as leader of the opposition.
PKR a shadow of what it was
He then put together a credible opposition coalition that inflicted upon Umno its greatest political defeat… only to embarrass himself shortly after with an audacious, doomed and delusional attempt to bluff himself into government.
And since then there have been other skirmishes that really makes one question the political acumen of this man.
Today he presides over a PKR that is a shadow of what it was after the 12th general election.
From being the biggest opposition party with 31 seats, PKR now has 24 – at par with PAS while DAP has 28 seats in Parliament. Six of PKR elected representative defected.
Its party election is not worth talking about.
And now credible accusation of abuse and deliberate mismanagement of Selangor’s affairs for PKR’s political advantage has surfaced but not adequately addressed.
This goes against the core electoral promise by PKR that Selangor will be governed with the interest of the people being paramount.
For the Malays they know that if they vote for Najib, it is Najib that will be prime minister, not Rosmah (Mansor, his wife).
If the Malays vote for Anwar, it is Anwar they will get and that is asking big of the Malays.
Anwar, a ‘for the moment’ man
To date, all that Anwar has done in politics only serves him for the moment that he was then in, whether in government or in opposition.
In so doing he makes himself a politician of the moment – he is Umno when in Umno and Pakatan Rakyat when he is in Pakatan and what he will be tomorrow is to be seen.
He will need to walk over water again if he is to be relevant for the 13th general election.
But do not discount Anwar for he is a remarkable Malay politician and is able to leap over tall buildings with a single bound and fight evil and injustice without fear or favour.
But until that happens he will have to do the more mundane task of reconciling with those he has locked horns with and address the immediate future of PKR relevance within the Pakatan’s coalition in its preparation to fight the mother of all general elections.
That he is still standing today is testament to his survival skills honed over many years of adversities.
Many lesser men would have crumbled in the face of what he has endured over the years and yet somehow he survives.
What matters to me is, what he will now do in his going forward for PKR and for Pakatan.
For or against Anwar, you must have a grudging respect for what he has done to make himself an adversary worthy of Najib’s consideration.
Today he might be bloodied and wounded but he has not given up his fight to form a government – a fight he has not only against Umno but also against the Malays who now question his commitment to them and his detractors in the opposition of which I am one.
We – his detractors and I within the opposition – he can discount; the Malay votes he cannot.
CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.