Will ‘PM-tepi’ finally be Malaysia’s PM10?


Just Keep Swimming

23 Oct 2022 03:00pm

As a child, one of my earliest memories about opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was when he was sacked and accused of sodomy and corruption in 1998.

I was eight, did not know much but understood that Anwar, as a deputy prime minister was supposedly on the course to succeed then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman had surely gone through a whirlwind of life, with him being sent to jail for crimes that he maintained were politically motivated.

The man then came back stronger with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) with its famed objective – to reform the country.

Up until these days, if you hear the chant ‘Reformasi’, his face may be the first thing that pops up in your mind aside from the street protests of course.

Four years after his release in 2004, Anwar was again accused of sodomy by a male aide.

The accusations, he said, were aimed at removing him from his post as leader of the opposition when he went against then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is now also serving time but for corruption.

During his sentencing in 2013, I was no longer the eight-year-old child consuming news about Anwar from the television or newspaper, but served as a journalist for an English newspaper and was given a chance to cover the events happening outside of the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya.

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Up until this day, I can remember the chaotic atmosphere at the court’s compound.

As soon as word came out that he was sentenced to five years for sodomy charges, his supporters chanted ‘Reformasi’, some shouted ‘Justice for Anwar’, some aunties and uncles the same age as my parents could be seen shedding tears.

After his incarceration, there were a series of protests that I covered, with university students seen fighting for his justice and demanded for the country’s system be cleaned.

His hardcore supporters did not mind if they were arrested or charged as long as messages were relayed.

Undeniably, Anwar had his charm and I had always seen him as charismatic, so it was not a surprise that he had thousands of hardcore supporters who wanted to see him lead the country.

In 2017, Dr Mahathir, who had once sent him to jail promised to seek a royal pardon for Anwar and hand him the premiership if their coalition succeeded in its bid to remove Najib and the Umno-led government.

The duo joined forces to lead the opposition to victory, which ended Umno’s 60-year rule and subsequently, Anwar’s pardoned and release.

Dr Mahathir was named the prime minister in 2018 and repeatedly delayed handing over power up until the collapse of the PH government in 2020, which made way for the Sheraton Move.

Anwar made several attempts to be the country’s number one once more following Dr Mahathir’s resignation but was unsuccessful.

All these while, Anwar was dubbed ‘PM-tepi’ (sidelined prime minister) especially after his “strong, formidable, convincing” claims.

Fast forward to today, Malaysia is headed towards the 15th General Election and 75-year-old Anwar has been named as PH’s prime minister candidate.

Umno has also named its vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri as its candidate. He is also currently Caretaker Prime Minister.

While other coalitions have yet to name their candidates, Gerakan Tanah Air coalition is expected to name Dr Mahathir as its prime minister candidate for the third time in history now.

Just last week, the nonagenarian said he was prepared to meet Anwar and his former enemies for a possible collaboration in the coming election and repeat the previous success in his bid to ‘defeat all evil destroying the country’.

Anwar had also reciprocated and said that he was prepared to meet the former two-time premier.

This had stirred reactions from the public, with many advising Anwar against it or be careful as he might be ‘tricked’ again and continue to be sidelined.

After all, it was not his first time being shelved.

On his chance of becoming the prime minister, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang reportedly said it would take a “political miracle”, but did not discount the possibility that Malaysians would unite.

This was proven four years ago when Barisan Nasional (BN) government was overthrown 82.32 per cent or 12,299,514 persons exercised their rights to vote in GE14.

This year, a total of 21,173,638 individuals are eligible to vote in the GE15 with Selangor having the highest number of eligible voters with 3,652,790 followed by Johor (2,593,562) and Perak (2,005,362).

The answer to the question will Anwar finally be PM will rely on the number of voters turnout this polling day, how strong his supports are, especially now that he is contesting in Tambun - a new territory for him.

He has been the Port Dickson MP since he returned to politics and has confirmed that he will not be defending the seat.

Political analyst from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Associate Professor Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said Anwar’s move to contest in Tambun had been discussed before his incarceration and it was surprising to see the idea being revisited this year.

When asked if this year will finally see Anwar being reigned as the 10th prime minister, Azizuddin said that it all depends on the support that Anwar gets and right now, the political landscape in Malaysia is ‘interesting’ and he predicted that no one party could win the majority.

For me, GE15 will definitely be exciting – will we see our country being handed back to Umno? Or will we see the sidelined prime minister finally taking the post?

The decision is really up to us thus be sure to exercise our rights as voters this Nov 19 for our beloved Malaysia.

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