Ex-DPM Muhyiddin Yassin appears to be clutching at straws these days.
With his forlorn Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) struggling to gather support from the Malay electorate, Muhyiddin has now suggested that he was ready to work with PKR to secure the release of Anwar Ibrahim from prison.
“We cannot expect (Prime Minister) Najib (Razak) to free Anwar,” he was quoted as saying.
There is a condition attached, however. A BIG one. The public must first oust BN by voting for the Opposition at the next general elections.
Granted there are no eternal friends or enemies in politics, but Muhyiddin and Anwar had gone their separate ways almost two decades ago.
In 1996, Muhyiddin, then Minister for Youth and Sports and widely known as an Anwar loyalist, lost in the Umno vice-presidential election to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Two years later, Anwar was sacked as DPM, and Muhyiddin, not unlike everyone else in Umno, distanced himself from him.
Over the next seventeen years or so, while one flourished, the other plummeted like a star yanked from the sky.
Muhyiddin rose steadily through the ranks, going from Menteri Besar of Johor to the Youth and Sports portfolio to Domestic Trade, then Agriculture, and on to International Trade and Industry. He would later become the Minister for Education, Deputy President of Umno and Deputy Prime Minister.
Anwar, meanwhile, lurched from one ignominy to another, from one conviction and prison sentence to another, leaving his prime ministerial ambitions and credentials in tatters.
Yet, where was Muhyiddin’s sympathy for Anwar during all those lost years?
Was there even one occasion when he publicly stood up to defend him?
Even as recently as in April last year, while still Deputy Prime Minister, Umno’s latest forgotten man called for the public to respect the decision of the Pardons Board which had refused to grant Anwar clemency.
“The decision was made by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he asserted. “We have to respect the decision.”
Well, where is your respect for that decision now, Sir?
And why is it that you blame PM Najib Razak for Anwar’s predicament?
Given your longevity in the corridors of power you would surely know that Anwar’s ouster from party and government was the brainchild of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the man you now call your mentor.
Furthermore, his fate was sealed not by a ministerial act.
He was charged under a law validly existing in the statute books and unanimously found guilty beyond reasonable doubt by five judges in the apex court.
He was in fact given the most lenient of sentences by that court, given that parliament saw it fit to prescribe a minimum sentence of five years for the particular crime.
Ultimately, you may try to convince yourself that the 20-year Mahathir-Anwar feud has been consigned to the annals of history by one uncomfortable handshake, and that the Opposition can now move forward together in earnest to wrest control of Putrajaya.
Unfortunately, not many are so convinced.
Some prefer to think that handshake banished you, instead!
Rahim Zainuddin is a FMT reader.
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