by Stephen Chang
Anwar Ibrahim may be a changed man for the better. However, he has to prove himself through his words and actions. Anwar’s recent criticism of Lim Guan Eng's revelation of corruption within the heart of the previous government, and some of his statements and activities following his release are not good omens.
We must watch Anwar with an eagle eye and not give him the slightest opportunity to water down the commitment to reform and sell Malaysia to the highest bidder, namely Wall Street and the US.
The BBC journalist, Lyse Doucet, in her interview of Anwar recently showed ignorance of key aspects of Malaysia’s recent political events.
Tun Mahathir Mohamad was instrumental in jailing Anwar from 1999 to 2004 while Najib Razak, former Malaysian Prime Minister and UMNO leader, was instrumental in the jailing of Anwar in 2015 until his release after the 2018 GE. Yet all the reference during the interview were on Anwar’s incarceration in 1999 by Mahathir.
Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) with its coalition partners, which we all support, failed to win the 2008 and 2013 elections. Anwar boasted that he could bring sufficient (30) UMNO’s MP to cross over to the opposition and topple the UMNO led government following the 2008 GE. These were just empty words. Without Mahathir’s involvement, it is doubtful that PKR and its coalition partners would have won the 2018GE. There was no reference to this crucial point throughout the interview. The tone of the interview was that Mahathir needed Anwar’s support rather than the support needed was mutual.
A key reason for the breakdown of Anwar’s relationship with Mahathir was Anwar, as Finance Minister, attempted to sell Malaysia cheaply to his Wall Street friends with Anwar’s policies of implementing IMF’s discredited policies of austerity in Malaysia and allowing foreign interests, mainly US, to buy up Malaysia’s struggling corporations and financial institutions etc. for the cheap during the 1997 Asian Financial Crises. Anwar was Chairman of the Development Committee of World Bank and International Monetary Fund in 1998 which was totally due to US sponsorship. As many progressive world renowned economists have written the IMF and the World Bank are among the key global institutions responsible to for the continued reverse flow of wealth from the developing to the developed world since their founding after the 2nd World War.
Anwar has among his close political associates some of the most unsavoury political leaders in the world, including arch neo-con, Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz was the 10th President of the World Bank, United States Ambassador to Indonesia (1986 to 1989, during the military-backed government of President Suharto), former US Deputy Secretary of Defence (2001 to 2005) and a main architect of the Iraq war. Wolfowitz said of Anwar in TIME magazine he hoped “…that this courageous leader will continue to play a leading role on the world stage.”
In return for Anwar’s opening Malaysia to be raped by Wall Street, his Washington neo-cons friends would back him to be Malaysia’s PM and the global leader of the “moderate” Muslim world. The support received by Anwar from his Washington neo-cons friends and the West was astounding during Anwar’s time as Finance Minister in the 1990s (in 1998 the US Newsweek magazine named Anwar the "Asian of the Year"), his incarceration by Mahathir and following his release in 2004. Anwar was touted round the globe and Western capitals as an anti-corruption and anti-cronyism reformist which anyone who has studied Anwar throughout his period as a key member of Mahathir’s cabinet, will not recognise.
It should be noted that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the head of UMNO’s youth wing in 1998 and Anwar’s close associate, gave notice that he would initiate a debate on "cronyism and nepotism" at a UMNO General Assembly in 1998. Please note that this is the same Ahmad Zahid who was Deputy Prime Minister under Najib from 2015 until he was thrown out after the 2018 GE and now acting President of UMNO. This man, a former close associate of Anwar and Anwar’s spokesman on "cronyism and nepotism" in 1998, kept silent on the 1MDB scandal while happily serving as Najib’s deputy! This scoundrel, close associate of Najib was elected UMNO’s President on 30 June 2018. You should come to your own conclusion. It would not surprise me if things do not go Anwar’s way he may attempt to form a coalition government with his wing of PKR, UMNO and PAS.
From the 1990s, Anwar’s Washington neo-cons friends’ plan was to groom Malaysia, with the support of Anwar as PM, to be US’ “Saudi Arabia” of South East Asia to further the imperial interests of the US and the Anglo American Zionists in South East Asia and the Pacific region.
Anwar is seen by progressives and many in Malaysia as the US Trojan horse to bring Malaysia within US’ orbit and grip. I am definitely not a fan of Mahathir (except that he did a very job at 2018 GE) but Mahathir’s foreign policy is for Malaysia to remain a non-aligned nation and not a stooge to any other nation. It was encouraging that Mat Sabu, Minister of Defence, said on 1 July 2018 that he spoke to US Secretary of Defence James Mattis last month in Singapore that Malaysia does not want warships in the South China Sea.
I totally condemn the way Mahathir treated and jailed Anwar. However, I have no doubt that in 1998 if Anwar had the upper hand, he would have acted against Mahathir in similar manner. But as I wrote at the start of this article Anwar may be a changed man for the better but this has to be proved by actions as well as words.
Chang is a 73 years old Malaysian retired Strategic Business Development Consultant and Chartered Accountant living in the UK since 1968 and visits at least once a year.