With his stature and his oratory style, Anwar had the full attention of the young and impressionable audience.
My niece wasn’t sure how her fellow awardees actually felt because she was too traumatised to make sense of the situation. She remembered that she very hastily got away from there. And she cried herself to sleep for a quite a few nights, too fearful to share what she had gone through, with family and friends.
Years later, having settled in London, she went to one of the roadshow sessions that Anwar held during his Reformasi days. Seeing the chance, and thinking that he must be a much-changed man by then, she went up to him, reminded him of that speech and asked him:
Why? Without batting an eyelid, Anwar replied: Ahh, that’s politics. For sure, Anwar has benefited a lot for being such a forceful leader and champion of his race.
His dramatic fallout with his boss, Dr M, and his subsequent jail time, along with advancing age, have mellowed him. But has the man changed? Judging by his recent speeches, Anwar Ibrahim is still very much a man for all audiences, but one who knows who he can be champion for.
In a nutshell – the ultimate politician. Beneath the mellow facade lurks a very ambitious man. Making him more potent is the popular notion that he has been badly wronged. And that the time has come for him to claim his crown. There is a lot of resistance to that trajectory. But the deal had been struck.
If and when Anwar ascends to the throne, will he rely on the failsafe strategy of race-and-religion in his bid to obtain and retain power? Would this ambitious but beleaguered politician be opting for a divide-and-conquer strategy, taking the country down the path to fundamentalism, and keeping a large part of the population placated, ignorant and compliant?
It’s all familiar stuff – highly workable, failsafe, and easy to achieve – the perfect gameplan for a man in a hurry, someone who is a bit short of the intelligence, substance and conscience that define a real leader of a multiracial country.
We are acutely short of such leaders but that should never be the excuse to settle for someone who will choose the fast and easy way to achieve his ‘My Time is Now’ ambition.
A leader like Anwar must have a system of check and balance firmly in place, to prevent him from resurrecting the structure of UMNO that would enable him, his family, and his cronies to get their stranglehold on the country. We have seen how it is done.
This time around, we can make the difference. We have to. Yes – Patrick Teoh Patrick Teoh Patrick Teoh (born 16 October 1947) is an actor and radio personality in Malaysia. A career in radio, TV, stage and movies spanning more than three decades has earned Patrick the nickname of “Voice of Malaysia”, bestowed by his fans and the Malaysian mass media.