Malaysia: Anwar: ‘Convincing, formidable, strong’ failed due to principles

  • Two years ago, opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim announced that he had managed to secure a “convincing, formidable and strong” support to form a government, in a bid to wrestle back Putrajaya for Pakatan Harapan.
  • However, the words have since become a punchline for jokes after the Harapan chairperson failed to deliver on his promise, with some even doubting whether Anwar even had the numbers as claimed in the 23 Sep 20 press conference.
  • Asked to revisit this during a special interview on Monday, Anwar spoke about how his plan had gone downhill.
  • “When I said the words convincing, formidable… which has since been mocked, my announcement was based on letters of support from party leaders. At that juncture, the numbers I had was convincing and formidable,” he said.
  • “That was two years ago. And I say it again today, the letters were real,” he added in an interview with Malaysiakini, The Vibes and Sinar Harian at his office in Bukit Gasing, Petaling Jaya.
  • Anwar did not specify which political parties and MPs outside Harapan agreed to back him then, but it was strongly rumoured they include Umno and several of its leaders who were facing criminal trials in court.
  • As he had already garnered the amount of support, the Port Dickson MP said he then laid out a list of principles for those who are going to cooperate with Harapan.
  • They include conditions that government policies are not to be compromised, that they will reject narrow racial sentiment, and corruption, to comply with governance, and they are not to hijack the country’s leadership.
  • The PKR president also declined to give free out-of-jail cards to politicians who are facing criminal trials in court.
  • “I told them that one thing I will never be ready to do is to meddle in the judiciary, which is an institution that must be independent and credible. Because we have experiences with the judiciary. So, I laid out the conditions, and if they agree, then okay. But if they cannot accept, then it is their problem,” Anwar said.
  • “And let me put it this way, because of these conditions, I failed to become prime minister. But I could not betray the people’s mandate,” he added.
  • Meanwhile, the interview also touched on the topic of Bersatu, which recently started embarking on a mission to form cooperation with other political parties to fight against Umno dan BN in the next general election.
  • Asked whether Harapan would be willing to work with the party led by former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin once again after what happened in 2020, Anwar gave a lengthy response laced with contradictions.
  • At one point, the opposition leader spoke about his scepticism about working with “a party that has no principle and no clear leadership” and that they should “not get bitten by the same snake twice”.
  • However, in his answer, Anwar also said that as a leader and a Muslim, he must be ready to make peace with those who are sincere to make peace. He cited a Quranic verse that says: “The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers.”
  • “If it is for the good, I believe that as prominent leaders we must be ready to avoid being seen as a leader who is confined by narrow-minded partisan politics, but instead as someone who has strong principles but is ready to discuss. This is one of the Prophet’s practices. And we are following this,” he said.

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