Road to fulfilling a promise

ZURAIDA Kamaruddin (Housing and Local Government Minister and PKR Wanita chief) and her “supporters” feel that all 800,000 members of PKR should have been consulted on whether Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should run for parliament, which seat he should take and if a by-election should even be held.

If that’s her version of leadership, perhaps she should be moved to a far less serious ministry. That she is upset she was not consulted or involved enough is understandable. And perhaps her exclusion, if true, is even wrong.

But let’s be clear here. This was all known before the 14th General Election. This was the promise made to Malaysians during the campaign: Anwar would be pardoned, someone would vacate a seat and he would contest in a by-election and eventually take over from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. This was stated clearly.

Some may not have liked the idea but for Pakatan Harapan, this was a major part of their platform. So why are some groups, especially the liberal elite, screaming about Anwar’s re-entry into parliament via a by-election now?

The MP who stepped down, a retired Rear Admiral from the navy and a good man, has openly stated how proud he is to do this for his leader and that he is in fact doing Port Dickson a service by having the prime minister-designate as its MP. That’s the dream of any constituency.

Let’s look at this again. Pakatan fulfils a promise, PKR puts its leader into parliament, Port Dickson’s residents get the incoming prime minister as an MP, and the outgoing MP is proud and supportive. I’m struggling to see the downside for anybody other than the opposition here (actually, as they would be getting another chance to win a seat which they lost, it’s an upside for them).

Of course, the only group that wouldn’t want this is the one that does not want to fulfil the promises made at the general election; the group that is hungry for power and basically does not want Anwar as PM.

If you’re in the PKR leadership, just come out and say it. The paranoia being seen among some only muddies the water further.

There are many leaders who have sacrificed much for our new Malaysia, from Tian Chua to Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and Rafizi Ramli, and our late great Karpal Singh to Lim Kit Siang, but none as much as Anwar. Whether you like Anwar or not, you cannot deny that fact. Those who criticise and attack him now do not know what it’s like to spend 10 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement. They do not know what it’s like to be humiliated in public, have your family’s life destroyed and everything taken away from you and yet still stand tall to fight for what you believe in.

During the last election, Anwar’s family had to mortgage their home to support the campaign. I know this for a fact as I was there at the time. Do you know the two other leaders in our history who were forced to do this? Dato Onn Ja’afar and Tunku Abdul Rahman. Anwar is in good company, the only difference being he spent 10 years in jail, came out and forgave everyone who put him there.

Anwar cannot please everyone, nor will he be a popular choice for everyone. He can only prove himself to all of us as he takes on the mantle of leadership of the party and country. We can then determine for ourselves whether he measures up.

Many only remember the firebrand Anwar of 35 years ago, not the one I have come to know and call brother over the last 20 years, and the statesman he is now. And come GE15, we will either vote for him or not. That’s what the new Malaysia is about – choice. It’s something we were never really allowed to have before. It’s the Malaysia with the original 1957 recipe. We must accept that this is a unique situation stemming from historical injustices. If Anwar replaces Nurul Izzah, he would be accused of denying her of her well-earned position. If he replaces Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah, he will be accused of denying our first female Deputy Prime Minister of continuing to hold the office. Whatever he does, he will be criticised by one side or the other.

I have said this before; it’s a plaster, just rip it off. Some hair will be pulled out but they’ll grow back. But all of us must keep being critical of policies and statements, even from Anwar, because we must never allow another sycophantic regime like the previous administration again.

A true leader surrounds himself with people who often disagree with him and challenge his positions but still commands their respect and brings them around, or realises there is merit in the argument and positions. From my humble experience with the Anwar of today, he is such a man and he does keep such people around him. And even those in the party who are attacking him openly now, and those doing it quietly too, will not be left in the cold when he becomes the leader because it’s his nature to forgive, remould and uplift. It’s what we all should be doing.


Kuala Lumpur

Letters , Politics , Anwat Ibrahim , PKR , by election