‘Man in a hurry’ Anwar left with no choice, say analysts

Anwar Ibrahim has been preparing for his final sprint to Putrajaya by going on a nationwide tour to meet government leaders and ordinary people. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Anwar Ibrahim is a man in a hurry, as some critics have labelled him, but an analyst says the PKR leader has good reasons to be so.

For one, Malaysia’s political climate is getting more unpredictable, and waiting longer to make a parliamentary comeback could be risky.

“He realises that based on his previous experience, anything could happen, whether with PKR or Pakatan Harapan (PH),” said Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

“What if he ends up with a seat that is an Umno stronghold? That would be tough. He is still worried and that is why he is rallying support nationwide, including going to Sarawak to make peace with Sarawak leaders.”

He said Anwar could also be worried about attempts to stop his final sprint to the finishing line in Putrajaya.

It is a journey he has awaited for the last two decades. He was a step away from becoming the prime minister in 1998, also under Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration, when he found himself facing accusations of sodomy and power abuse.

He then led some of the biggest anti-government protests Malaysians had ever seen before he was thrown behind bars.

Yesterday, PKR announced that Anwar would stand as a candidate in Port Dickson, his launchpad for his eventual return to government.

While critics have complained over yet another by-election being forced onto voters, Awang Azman thinks Anwar’s popularity has increased.

He suggested that part of his rising popularity could be due to Anwar taking up issues previously championed by Umno, such as Malay rights and Islam.

“When Anwar becomes an MP again, he will be able to present his arguments in debates better, as he has experience as a seasoned politician and can handle matters better than most of the leaders in PH now,” Awang Azman told FMT, adding that the same role could also be played by Muhyiddin Yassin, the PPBM president who is also the home minister.

“But he is on sick leave at the moment,” he added.

‘Democratic euphoria’

Asked about PKR’s announcement yesterday on vacating Port Dickson for Anwar, PPBM chief strategist Rais Hussin said it was the only way for anyone to return to Parliament.

He said those who questioned the move did not understand politics.

“Let us understand what democracy means. Democracy means what the majority wants. It has been agreed among the coalition that there will come a time when Anwar will assume the position as the eighth prime minister.

“This is contained in the document that was signed by the four party presidents and also Mahathir himself,” said Rais, who was among the PH leaders who drafted the coalition’s manifesto.

Rais said questions over Anwar’s impending candidacy were natural at a time of “democratic euphoria”.

“Suddenly everybody wants to say something, wants to be an expert in democracy and define democracy and how it should be,” he added.

Rais said the decision by Port Dickson MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah to make way for Anwar should not be compared to the Kajang Move of 2014.

The Kajang Move refers to PKR’s plan to force a by-election in the Kajang state seat to install Anwar as the Selangor menteri besar, replacing Abdul Khalid Ibrahim who was seen going against party policies.

“Those who compare this to the Kajang Move are confused,” said Rais.

“The Kajang Move had no agreement, and it was clearly to do with internal party matters while the coalition then (Pakatan Rakyat) also had differing views.

“If somebody says that they are not going to be subjected to a political agenda, they are being very juvenile, because everything is politics (now).”