From Terence Netto
You know Annuar Musa is not in the party that suits his instincts from the way he now speaks on the PAS platform to which he has just migrated.
Sacked from Umno late last year, the former Kelantan Umno stalwart has chosen to join PAS, in preference to an indeterminate spell in the wilderness from which several expelled Umno leaders have returned in triumph, if not vindication.
This reporter was fortunate to have had one sighting of Annuar on an Umno platform in September 2017 in Balik Pulau, Penang.
It was enough to project his credentials as an Umno stalwart.
Annuar’s performance before an audience of young, mostly female, Umno supporters was compelling.
It was good enough that the next speaker, Dr Hilmi Yahya, then MP for Baik Pulau, was obliged to concede he would not be able to hold the audience in thrall the way Annuar had.
Hilmi swiftly wound up and conceded the floor to the man who had preceded him.
He had the good sense to know that if anybody that night could hold an audience rapt, at a time when Umno was beleaguered because of the 1MDB troubles of then Prime Minister Najib Razak, it was Annuar.
Aided by a striking physical presence – Annuar is tall and good-looking — and abetted by a dexterity in the use of the Malay language that makes him an effective speaker, Annuar sought to persuade his listeners rather than hector them.
He gave a background to the rise to national prominence of Lim Kit Siang and the DAP, a nice touch there in the sense that he wanted to educate the crowd through reasoned argument.
He did not denigrate the DAP, which is what he is doing these days in speaking of Umno president Zahid Hamidi whom he has compared to a car driver high on drugs.
He queried what special qualities there were in Anwar Ibrahim, the PKR supremo then serving time in Sungai Buloh, and a rallying symbol to the then opposition.
He said that compared to Anwar he was not lacking in oratorical skills and — in another nice touch here – said the PKR man couldn’t be said to best him in looks either.
When he called for questions from the floor, he welcomed the presence of a PKR supporter, an Air Force retiree, who raised a matter embarrassing to Umno.
Annuar was unfazed by the challenge. He met it with aplomb.
He told his audience to wait for Najib’s Budget speech the following month for the goodies he felt confident the PM would unveil.
All in all, it was a campaign speech that the then opposition, which included Dr Mahathir Mohamad, would have been hard put to match.
Annuar Musa, like Khairy Jamaluddin, who was sacked from Umno in January this year, should wait out the time in the wilderness rather than enlist with Umno’s adversaries and risk the flux of events and the vicissitudes of change.
At times, standing pat is better than flailing: there’s more dignity in the one, and makes you less prone to error.
Terence Netto is a senior journalist and an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.