Is Anwar Prime Minister material? I have always said this of Anwar. He is the best possible candidate there is in Malaysia now to be PM by default. Now whether he will be a good Prime Minister and whether he will be that someone who will lead our country to the brand new beginning that we want is another matter. Why do I say this?
When Anwar became DPM under Mahathir he was not the same person that I use to know nor was he the person he has now become. Whether that person he had become while he was DPM and Minister of Finance a good person or not is debatable and open to debate. But invariably in these ‘value judgement’ situation what ever we want to think would be correct when it is looked from our very own perspective. But this we know. He was a full-fledged active willing convert to UMNO and whatever it was that UMNO was then. He was into nepotism, he was into cronyism, he was into ‘jobs for the boys’, he was into awarding of contracts and tenders to ‘preferred parties’ and all the corresponding pros and cons that these acts are wont to perpetuate.
That he was seen to have changed and acted against Mahathir will be claimed by him to be his moment of ‘seeing the light’. I question that claim. Anwar, a Politician par extraordinaire, found himself in a situation where he would lose his status in the hierarchy of UMNO, would lose his position as DPM and worse – would lose what power he then had and subsequently the post of PM that he thought was his. He is too astute a man to not know this when Mahathir wanted him out. He could not fight from within because Mahathir had the numbers to ensure that it will not happen. Anwar did the next best thing he could – take himself out of UMNO and begun his fight against his previous master and party.
All the accusations against him became immaterial because they are just a means to an end. The end was to neutralize him effectively and bury him six feet underground and relocate PWTC over his grave.
That he is able to survive the physical and mental hardship of prison and many years in the wilderness of politics is a testimony of his ability to endure on a personal level – but for what purpose?
To right the wrong that he has seen perpetuated by UMNO upon the Malays and our country? Maybe. To galvanise the people against these wrongs and injustices from which he himself has suffered? Maybe. To claim back the PM post as was promised to him by Mahathir? Maybe. Revenge against those that had condemned him to many years of hell? Maybe. Only Anwar knows.
But the Anwar of today is what we want, what we need to lead us to the next General Elections that can see the end of UMNO as we know it. This I am confident Anwar can and will do. But it would be wise for PR to start the process of finding who will come after Anwar. I believe that Anwar will not only find the strength to take us to the next General Election but he will ensure our victory - but we should not expect much more of him after that. Let him rest. For we will have need of leaders who will take the winning of the next General Election as the beginning of our journey to a new Malaysia – not, as I think Anwar would want to think, of it as being the end of a journey for him.