When Mahathir lashes out at Anwar, will it catch fire?
Tun Dr Mahathir at the Perkim annual general meeting on Saturday. -
Picture by Choo Choy May for The Malaysian InsiderKUALA LUMPUR, March
31 � The fight to drag Anwar Ibrahim into a political mud-fight began
yesterday when Tun went back to his playbook of
1998 and accused the de facto opposition leader of being a stooge for
Unlike 10 years ago, Anwar is not likely to be perturbed by this
attack. He will not take the bait and will dismiss his one-time mentor
as someone whose relevance to has passed.
Anwar knows that he does not need to get into a street fight, as he is
viewed by many Malaysians as the man who is ushering in a new dawn for
the country while Dr Mahathir is seen as part of the old landscape.
Also, Anwar does not need to score points with Umno or convince them
of his fitness to lead. If anything, it is Dr Mahathir who has to
audition for their support as he sets about to force a change of
leadership in Umno. It was vintage Mahathir yesterday. He described
Anwar as "a man of many parts", someone with a forked tongue.
"When he talks about Islam, Muslims will think he's a champion of
Islam. When he is with the Jews, the Jews love him.. When he is with
the Muslims, the Muslims love him. When he is with the temple groups,
they love him too.
"Everybody loves him. He is a convincing orator� If the Malays are
willing to kowtow to the foreigners, then they can choose this
person," he said during a question-and- answer session after he opened
the annual general meeting of Persatuan Melayu Tanjong ( Malays
Association) here yesterday.
When someone in the audience wondered whether Anwar stood a chance to
be the next prime minister, Dr Mahathir suggested that he would make a
"good prime minister of Israel". This was not a shot in the dark as
the former PM knows that Muslims here have great animosity with
over that country's handling of the Palestinian issue.
When the former prime minister sacked Anwar Ibrahim from the party and
government 10 years ago, he repeatedly accused his one-time prot�g� of
being a lackey of the West, especially the United States. But the
difference between then and now is as stark as night and day.
This was evident at a recent seminar on the elections at Universiti
Utara Malaysia.. Among the panelists were deputy chief minister
Dr P. Ramasamy, PAS politician Mujahid Rawa and deputy minister
Saifuddin had a tough time getting his points across as he was booed
consistently by the young audience.
Dr Mansor Mohd Noor, a political analyst who was in the hall, said:
"There has been a change in the political environment in West
. Malaysians want to know about the vision of this country.
Any attempt at character assassination or personal attacks will not go
down well with the public. The focus is on integrity, good governance,
just policies. If you cannot articulate all this, then your relevance
He noted that voters, including Malays, were upset that the Barisan
Nasional attacked Anwar a few days before the polls as an
"Many people believe that he was the wronged party in 1998 and had 6
years taken away from him. Calling him a foreign agent will be like
selling an old newspaper. And not a credible one," Dr Mansor.
Still, he believes that Tun Mahathir is attempting to show the Umno
rank and file that only he has the fire in the belly to take on Anwar.
His pitch � though old and out-of-date with many Malays � could find
support within a party searching for a leader to stop the seemingly
unstoppable march of the Anwar-led opposition.
Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."