Zaid sees Anwar as ideal leader of Reformasi government

PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim on the campaign trail for the Port Dickson by-election. (Bernama pic)

PORT DICKSON: Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim has paid tribute to Anwar Ibrahim as the originator of the reform movement that began in the late 1990s and achieved its objective of toppling Barisan Nasional from power in May.

Speaking to FMT, he said the PKR leader’s victory in the Port Dickson by-election would be a step towards the establishment of a “complete Reformasi government”.

Zaid, who is a member of DAP, urged Pakatan Harapan (PH) to set a date for Anwar’s succession to the post of prime minister “if it’s sincere in wanting a smooth transition”.

He indicated his objection to a “lack of certainty” as to when Dr Mahathir Mohamad would step aside to make way for Anwar. “You cannot play around,” he said. “Power is addictive. You cannot take people for granted.”

He reminded PH that it won the 14th general election because it promised the people that they would have “something different”.

“I think someone like Anwar will be able to bring about change,” he said. “He has a good track record. He is interested and committed.”

However, he also said the years might have changed Anwar or imbued him with a quality that enables him to serve two versions of Reformasi – “original and spicy”.

“But I belong to the old school,” he quipped. “I like the original recipe. I hope he hasn’t changed.”

“Reformasi” was the informal name given to the protest movement that emerged in late 1998 following Anwar’s dismissal from his position as deputy prime minister.

It rallied thousands to the streets of Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere in the country in daily demonstrations calling for the end of corruption and cronyism and the resignation of Mahathir as prime minister.

The demonstrations continued after Anwar’s arrest on Sept 20, 1998. Though they eventually tapered out, they resumed at key moments, such as during Anwar’s appearances in court.