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Gaza conflict, a diversion for Anwar?

It is also a factor in ingratiating himself to the Malays on the grounds of Islam.

P Ramasamy
4 minute read

Is it true that the deteriorating economic, political and social situation has predisposed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to engage in histrionics? 

Here I am referring to the impression created lately that there are powers that are not happy with Anwar for his firm stand on the side of the Palestinians in the present conflict in Gaza. 

I, and certainly the Malaysian public, would like to know what Anwar has done to displease the powers that be. 

As far as I am concerned, Anwar has not done anything out of the ordinary to affirm his support for the 100-year-old Palestinian cause. 

He has not done anything that former prime ministers have done so far. 

At least credit must be given to former prime minister Najib Razak who visited Gaza to support Hamas in 2013. 

In giving the benefit of doubt to Anwar, perhaps his latest contribution to the Palestinian cause was hidden from the public eye. 

For the issuance of threats against Anwar is something that cannot be taken lightly. 

The Malaysian police, I understand, have doubled their efforts to give maximum security to Anwar. 

The onus is now on Anwar to give details of the threats: where they are coming from, and what he did to infuriate them to the extent that a sitting prime minister has been threatened. 

If these threats are real and ominous, I don’t see why Anwar would want to exaggerate or lie. Malaysians must rally behind Anwar. 

I might have differences with Anwar on his administration of the country, but I am prepared to defend him if threats are hurled against him for taking up the humanitarian cause of the Palestinians.  

It cannot be that Anwar has been targeted for his support of Hamas, an organisation described as terrorists in the West. 

Earlier prime ministers had no qualms about supporting Hamas, so why should Anwar be made an exception? 

So, the question that is foremost in the minds of many is: what did Anwar really do to alienate those who are threatening him?

However, there is another side to the story of threats against Anwar. 

Maybe there were no threats but some warnings could have been issued against the country. 

Chances are that Anwar, in order to capitalise on the threats, blew them out of proportion to the extent that they were personalised. 

Maybe true, maybe not true. 

The question is: why would Anwar want to exaggerate trivial matters? 

Was there a necessity for this? 

Some of his critics are saying that there were no threats against Anwar. On the Palestinian issue, Anwar, despite his rhetoric, has not done more than the prime ministers before him.

Given this, how do we understand the phenomenon of threats against him?

His political enemies who knew Anwar well long before he became the prime minister think that Anwar is pulling a fast one. 

They say that there were no threats as such, but there is the possibility that threats could have been manufactured or exaggerated to camouflage some of Anwar’s shortcomings in the administration of the country. 

It has been nearly a year of Anwar being the prime minister. Although this might be brief to judge his performance, his management of the country leaves much to be desired. 

The economy seems to be in bad shape due to debts amounting to RM1.5 trillion. 

Against this backdrop, the ringgit continues to slide against the US dollar under Anwar’s administration. 

Whether it is a coincidence or not, 25 years ago when Anwar was the finance minister, the ringgit also plummeted to a low level against the US currency. 

This time around, Anwar is not only the prime minister but also the finance minister, a post that he does not want to give up to others. 

It is obvious that the position of finance minister seems unsuitable for Anwar given his other duties. 

The ringgit slide has come at a time of severe food shortage in the country. 

Years of bad economic planning, the non-prioritisation of the agricultural sector, the overemphasis on plantation crops and others are responsible for the current food insecurity. 

It is not just a rice shortage, but also a shortage of other agricultural products.

It is not that Anwar is playing the proverbial flute while the country is suffering, but he somehow or other has the penchant, say his detractors, of diverting attention to other matters such as the current conflict in Gaza. 

For Anwar, the Palestinian issue is not just to divert attention, but also a factor in ingratiating himself to the Malays on the grounds of Islam. 

Since Anwar has no support among the Malays, he hopes that his rhetoric on the genocide against Palestinians and simultaneous demonisation of the Jewish Zionist state might earn him some much needed political capital.

P Ramasamy is a former deputy chief minister of Penang.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.

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