Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Anwar Sets Another Moving Target

A Kadir Jasin

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COULD the parliamentary Opposition Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, have spoken too soon or could he have been merely posturing?

Did the Sept. 16 deadline come and go because he was betrayed by the Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament who were supposed to shift allegiance to his Pakatan Rakyat coalition?

Or was it due to the refusal of the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to meet him to discuss the handover, as he repeatedly claimed?

These and other posers relating to the botched Sept 16 deadline – to borrow the term used by the independent news portal Malaysiakini – were on the minds of a lot of people as the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) held it annual general assembly over the weekend.

But as Malaysiakini put it, the PKR supremo was only able to tell his audience that it is not easy for him to explain the debacle.

Malaysiakini quoted Anwar as saying: "It is not easy for me to explain it. There are so many things that I cannot say. There are people who agreed to cross over but with a condition – reveal it only when they are ready."

The news portal notes: “Breaking into a song and drawing laughter from the some 3,000 people gathered, Anwar rendered cakap salah, tak cakap salah, jadi semua serba salah.”

That, to me, is untypical. Anwar is seldom lost for words. Anwar that I know since early 1982, when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad proudly presented him to the Press as the newest member of Umno, is never lost for words.

Eloquence is his middle name!

To listen to Anwar is to believe in the lyric of the popular song “Killing Me Softly” written in 1971 by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel.

[Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song...”]

This I have said many times before. To listen to him is to be killed by him.

[I heard he sang a good song
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him
And listen for a while
And there he was this young boy
The stranger to my eyes….]

His sweet words may no longer mesmerise the old and the jaded – those he led up the garden path and into the wilderness during his 16 glorious years in Umno.

But to his newer followers who voted the PKR/Pakatan Rakyat in the March 8 polls and the younger disciples who throng his ceramah, Anwar is still the Pak Sheikh, the Brother Anwar and the messiah.

So, if Anwar was lost for words to explain the botched Sept 16 deadline, I could only think of two reasons.

First, there was never really the support that would allow him to topple the BN government via a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

Second, if the Sept. 16 battle cry were mere political posturing to force the BN government to capitulate, Anwar would find it most difficult to explain and to make his starry-eyed youthful supporters understand this ruse.

These young people and new followers were utterly convinced that their idol would become the Prime Minister on Sept. 16 and they would be able to thumb their noses at Umno and the BN.

Thus Anwar’s admission that it is not easy to explain the Sept 16 issue could be to his detriment and to the detriment of PKR and Pakatan Rakyat. Their youthful supporters do not have the patience of seasoned voters.

Upon failing to meet the Sept. 16 deadline, Anwar said his priority was to work with the government to save the economy. But the BN government has rejected his overtures.

Now he told his audience that he has a back-up plan, which he will start with winning over of the Sarawak voters in preparation for the coming state elections.

Malaysiakini quoted him as saying: "When (will the new government be formed)? Just wait. For the time being, we will tackle Sarawak... and Sarawak is our new front line (to take over the government)."

The Pakatan Rakyat may stand a fairly good chance of rattling the Sarawak BN but winning the key state is still a tall order.

Even if, by a stroke of good luck, it is able to unseat the growingly unpopular state BN, it can hope to rekindle its takeover of the federal government only if the Sarawak BN MPs crossover en masse, which is unlikely. Even if they do, he still does not have the number.

In the meantime, what Anwar has is oratorical panache to continue to kill his eager listeners softly with his song by telling them their whole life with his words.

To borrow the lines from Dan Seals’ song “Everything that glitters” – “ …and, oh the crowd will always love you, but as for me, I’ve come to know, everything that glitters is not gold.”

And to be somewhat more classical – remembering that Saudara Anwar also loves theatre – allow me to recall the lines from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice as a poser.

”All that glitters not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold
Young in limbs, in judgment old
Your answer had not been inscrolled
Fare you well, your suit is cold.”

So, in a situation like this, I shall resist the temptation of asking Anwar “o, where art thou my brother” but instead re-quote the lines from Bob Dylan’s song – “the answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.”

Or shall I say, que sera sera, whatever will be will be.

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