Unlike many liberals, I do not have much problem of Anwar’s past as an Islamist and Malay-nationalist. I never think that politicians need to be saintly to do good things (by whatever standards). All they need is just the right incentives.
To me, the right incentives are the prospect to power and the prospect to loose it. Before the polls, I told Anwar-skeptics that if they didn’t trust Anwar’s sincerity to carry out the reform he promised, they should give him power for an Anwar without power would only be more likely to abandon the cause for reform.
In that sense, I have never doubted Anwar’s ability to do great things. For the very least, he has the ability and credential to bridge Malaysia’s communal divide, greater than any other politicians.
The first part of his come-back speech at Kelab Sultan Suleiman, Kampung Baru last night confirmed my belief in his potential. He took the talks on Malay Supremacy (Ketuanan Melayu) head on and forcefully pointed out how the champion of such cause, UMNO, has let the Malays down in both economic and cultural senses.
Economically, he said, “they talked about Malays only after they have lost. When they win, it’s me, my son and my son-in-law.” He asked if the ordinary Malays have benefited from projects contracts, permits to import car (AP), taxi licenses and other business opportunities.
Culturally, he attacked UMNO for marginalizing the Malay language, pointing at the teaching of science and mathematics in English.
His rhetorics is as consistent as you have heard him talking elsewhere. He certainly did not tell different stories to please different audiences. He did not disown the Malay nationalist concerns. He only skillfully married the traditional concerns of Malay ethno-nationalism – economic opportunity, Malay as national language – to the inclusive positions in Malaysian civic-nationalism.
He began his sentence so naturally, “kami orang Melayu”, as if you are listening to an UMNO leader, but without a break, “Cina, India, Iban, Kadazan, ……”
He talked about making “the Chinese and Indians feeling this is their land”.
He addressed the thorny pig farm issue.
He led the Malay-majority crowd to shout “Ketuanan … Rakyat! Ketuanan … Rakyat!”
His message is clear: the Malaysian land does not belong only to Malays, but all other Malaysians too.
Anwar’s new Malaysia is not only inclusive, but also supposedly clean and people-serving. He said he told the Arab investors that his future ministers will not take any kick-backs from the projects. Projects will be carried out only to benefit the people. Economy will be managed well so that the people will not suffer inflation.
So, you will see an inclusive, clean and competent Malaysia.
But how would he achieve that? That’s what the second part of his speech is all about.
(The third part is to rebut Mahathir’s charge that he collaborated with Israel and to attack his former boss for fixing the judiciary and controlling the media. )
“Officially, we have only 82 seats. Unofficially, we have enough”, he hinted again at party-hopping.
And he openly and shamelessly justified such practice. “They said this is not moral. What morality are you talking about when the elections are rigged?”
He also questioned the critics about the morality in his imprisonment, the detention of innocents under ISA and other wrongdoings by the BN.
He counted his estimate of the Pakatan Rakyat’s losses in the unfair and unclean elections: 15 seats to the cancellation of indelible ink (which might prevent multiple voting)， 15 seats to the opaque postal votes, and 10 seats to media control.
So, with a clean election, his coalition would have won 122 seats, installed already now as the government. He claimed some East Malaysians have told him that they know well how the elections were stolen, hence if they change the parties, they are merely representing the choice of the people.
So, the new Malaysia will be built through seat-buying?
Yes, saudara Anwar, we know your party leaders have stressed that the cross-overs would not involve monetary transfers. However, who would be so stupid to ask for only money when they can ask for even ministerial position in the new government?
Saudara Anwar, would you enlighten us, why is vote-buying wrong but seat-buying right?
If elected representatives can make the “right” choice for the people they represent after the poll, what’s wrong with voters who would be happy to make the “right” choice during the poll after receiving the right gifts?
If a voter selling his/her vote can be considered prostituting his/her democratic right, is an elected representative selling his/her election mandate not equatable to human trafficking?
And what kind of new Malaysia is this? How is your New Malaysia different from the new Sabah you have helped to bring about in 1994 when the PBS government was brought down by its lawmakers crossing over?
Saudara Anwar, you seemed to ask your critics: where were you when the elections were rigged and when the ISA was abused?
You tried to make a case that two wrongs will make a right.
Let me offer you my observation.
Some of your critics were in fact hypocritical – they have never condemned election rigging or human rights violations until today. They condemn party-hopping now only because their parties stand to loose. And they were your colleagues until September 2, 1998.
Some others – from the civil society mainly – have always been critical of election rigging and human rights violation. They have nothing to be apologetic in opposing any seat-buying moves – whether from Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional – today.
And finally, some others – including your party colleagues from the former Parti Rakyat and your coalition colleagues from PAS and DAP – had condemned party-hopping of elected representatives in the past. PAS Kelantan even passed a state enactment to require the party-hoppers to relinquish their positions only to be declared unconstitutional by the apex court for violating the representatives’ freedom of association. I just wonder where these colleagues of yours stand today. They can perhaps answer all your questions better than anyone else.
A New Malaysia? Yes, I still want it, but please not one that is made in a dirty process.