BUKIT MERTAJAM: Former teacher Abdul Wahid Basar recalled a time when he was denied a hefty pay hike for supporting Anwar Ibrahim.
He said those interviewing him for a rise in his Grade C salary scale appeared to have photographed his car emblazoned with liveries of Anwar, his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and the late PAS chief Fadzil Noor.
Wahid said there was a “security score” of 10% that one had to pass to qualify for the pay rise, and claimed that points would be deducted if one appeared to support the opposition.
“I told the interviewer that I had two cars, and I lent one to my neighbours to go campaigning in the 1999 election. He just nodded and smiled. I never got the pay rise in the end,” Wahid, 65, told FMT.
He said that as years went on, he laid low and rooted for Anwar in secret because he was afraid of being transferred out or be demoted.
“I wore my kopiah and kept my political allegiances to myself until I retired in 2017. After that, I came out in the open and supported him.
“To see Anwar taking the oath of office yesterday, it made me feel that the injustice done to me meant nothing, compared to years of injustice done to our leader of Permatang Pauh,” he said.
Wahid, from Kampung Petani, was one of few early supporters of Anwar after he was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998, and later jailed for sodomy.
Yesterday, Anwar’s close friends and those who took part in the 1998 struggle, collectively termed “Otai Reformis”, were happy to see him sworn in as the nation’s 10th prime minister.
Shafiengi Mat Taib, 60, one of Anwar’s friends who started the “Adil” movement, an earlier version of PKR, recalled a time when he gathered at Anwar’s house in Kuala Lumpur on the eve of his arrest.
“When I got back home the following morning, we heard Anwar was arrested. I and five others gathered and decided to go all-out to fight for his release,” he said.
He said they started a “guerilla warfare” by spraying the word “R” (for Reformasi) all over town, up to Butterworth, to demand an end to Anwar’s persecution in 1998.
Another friend, army veteran Shuib Ismail, 67, recalls spending a few nights in jail in Taiping, and later in Serdang, Kedah, for taking part in a protest deemed illegal at the Kinta prison in Perak.
“We went there to stage a protest and to call for Anwar’s release because I knew that he was not capable of being immoral. I know Anwar’s mother, Mak Yan. They are from a good family. Looking back, spending nights in jail was worth it,” he said.
Che Zaini Ahmad, 67, who was once with Anwar in the Permatang Pauh Umno division leadership, said she later quit all her posts to support Anwar.
“I was a lone ranger back then. No one dared to leave for fear that Dr M (Mahathir) would take action. We rented a house in Permatang Pasir to set up Anwar’s first Adil campaign headquarters,” she said.