By Chandra Muzzafar
7 March 2008
I would not have bothered to respond to the malicious comments on blogs and websites about my criticism of Anwar Ibrahim if Aliran had also not joined the chorus of attacks on me. The Aliran attack is in a sense the most painful.
Let me begin by correcting some erroneous phrases in the Aliran Media Statement. I had not said that the BN “is a better choice”. Neither the STAR nor the NST which reported my speech at the Forum on the General Election organized by the STAR on 3 March 2008 used that phrase. What I said was that “at this juncture in our history, the BN, despite all its flaws, constitutes the only viable inter-ethnic coalition in the country.” I then explained why the attempt by the Opposition to create an alternative coalition between 1999 and 2001, in which I was involved, together with others, failed. “That the BN &is a better choice” is a phrase concocted by Aliran officials who had signed the Statement.
By the same token, there is no way that my remarks on Anwar could be construed as an “emotional outburst”. The half a minute answer I gave was in response to a question from a member of the audience. I spelt out briefly the reasons why I thought Anwar was not fit to lead a multi-ethnic nation. There are many other factors that disqualify him from performing a leadership role which I shall reveal at the right time.
Some of my unhappiness with Anwar and Parti KeAdilan Nasional (as it was then known as) which I quit in December 2001, I chose to share with Aliran President, P. Ramakrishnan, at a dinner in a Petaling Jaya restaurant in early 2002. From the notes I have kept of our meeting, I was quite candid with him about money politics in the party, the lack of financial accountability, and its manipulation of communal sentiments. It was information that I have over the years brought to the notice of a handful of other friends. In a couple of interviews with local magazines I had also alluded to these weaknesses within the party and its leadership. But I never really exposed the politics of PKR and Anwar until 3 March 2008.
Aliran leaders, like some others who have made caustic comments about my criticism of Anwar, ask why I had decided to go public at this time, in the midst of the 12th General Election campaign. As I have explained, I did not choose the moment or the occasion. I was merely replying to a question from the floor.
My answer has prompted a variety of individuals and groups within and without the political arena to expose the machinations and manipulations of a Machiavellian politician. For this master of deceit and duplicity was beginning to hoodwink a gullible segment of Malaysian society into believing that he was that long awaited ‘knight in shining armour’ who would deliver the masses into that glorious paradise of justice and equality. It is partly because ‘the knight’ has been unmasked that a lot more Malaysians have become conscious of what is at stake at this critical moment in their lives when they once again exercise their right to determine their future.
The unmasking of their ‘knight’ has obviously made the Aliran leaders unhappy. They demand to know why I am “so concerned about the problem of money politics in PKR” and yet have not “said much of late about the money politics which has always been associated with the BN.” If any of the Aliran leaders was at the 3rd March Forum he would acknowledge that in my presentation I had highlighted corruption in the upper echelons of politics and business as one of the three major challenges confronting the nation. I had also suggested that the widening gap between the ‘have-a-lot’ and the ‘have-a-little’ and the strengthening of democracy are two other challenges that demand urgent attention from the ruling elite. Since the main thrust of my presentation was the relationship between the ethnic situation and the forthcoming election, I also expressed the view that the ruling elite of the last few decades was largely responsible for allowing ethnic polarization to worsen. At the end of my talk, I proposed that the BN should at the grassroots level begin to transform itself into a truly multi-ethnic rather than an inter-ethnic party in order to enhance national integration.
It is of course true that these Malaysian concerns have not been the primary foci of my attention in the last decade and a half. This is because I have been concentrating upon the global power structure. But I am aware of how that global impacts upon the local. It is because I know quite a bit about the globallocal interface that I am deeply worried about Anwar Ibrahim’s role in Malaysian politics.