Anwar Ibrahim's supporters like Lim Kit Siang simply do not understand.
They keep thinking that people are criticising Anwar and the unity government because we are impatient about results, but that is not the case. We know that results take time. Heck, we even know that the results are not fully in Anwar’s or the unity government’s control.
Take the economy, for example. If the economy does badly, we know that it might not necessarily be Anwar’s or the unity government’s fault. Results depend on many things, among which is fortune and luck. If Anwar and the unity government truly did their best, even if they couldn’t get the desired result, we can understand and accept that fortune was just not on our side.
The problem is, we don’t believe that Anwar has tried his best, or is even trying at all.
We don’t see Anwar trying to re-establish the doctrine of separation of power, institute the independence of the judiciary, fight against corruption, practise good governance, make educational reforms or uphold human rights or freedom of speech and religion.
As a matter of fact, a number of things that Anwar has done since he assumed power are just making us believe that he either doesn’t understand what he is supposed to do or is moving in the opposite direction of his promise.
For Anwar to say that hiring his daughter for a high government position, although his daughter clearly does not possess the qualification and experience required for the post, is not an act of nepotism is not a slip of tongue. This is the utterance of someone who doesn’t understand what nepotism is. This is alarming, coming from a person who has spent decades fighting for a clean government.
I don’t know what Lim sees in Anwar’s fight against corruption. All I know is that when Anwar first came to power, he declared that he was going to bust Bernas’ rice monopoly, but as soon as Syed Mokhtar, the boss of Bernas, kissed Anwar’s hand and called him elder brother, all the talk about breaking Bernas’ monopoly disappeared into thin air, even when the price of imported rice in the country skyrocketed.
Does Lim even know what people are saying about Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s DNAA and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s whipping? Anwar says that he is not involved in it, but other than listening to Anwar, maybe Lim should put his ear to the ground, to see what people think about Anwar’s effort to institute the independence of the judiciary.
As of yesterday, there were five opposition MPs who had debased Parliament and made a mockery of the anti-hopping law by switching their support for Anwar while remaining in the opposition fold. Not only has Anwar not spoken against it, a lot of people see him as the prime mover of the entire event.
He is the prime beneficiary of the move, after all. How are we supposed to believe that Anwar runs a government that honours the concept of separation of power when not one – or two or three – but five parliamentarians are debasing themselves for the sake of the prime minister?
There is no shortage of examples to show why it is difficult to count on Anwar to keep his word, but there is a preponderance of evidence to suggest that Anwar will likely do many things that are contrary to the things he has promised to do.
That he is more than capable of going against his promises is also beyond doubt.
This is a man who promised that the prime minister would not hold the finance minister post before breaking his word without an iota of shame. If he had any sense of shame, even if he had to break his word and hold the finance minister post, he would have been ashamed and he would have done his level best to make it so that he wouldn’t have to hold it a second more than necessary.
That Anwar has happily held on to the finance minister post for a year tells us that not only is he not pained by the fact that he had to break his word and hold on to the post, he probably intended to hold it from the get-go.
From his behaviour, I don’t think he is ever going to let go of the finance minister position. Not only does he not behave like he finds it shameful to hold on to the position, he is acting as if he sees it as a sign of achievement. I bet he probably thinks he is clever for being able to fool us by holding on to the position despite promising us that he would not hold it.
I am not going to blame Lim for putting his trust in Anwar. Maybe Lim thinks that Anwar is just cleaning the house. When you clean the house, the house will become messier before it is clean, after all.
Lim and Anwar are also probably friends, and it is indeed hard to see the faults of one’s own friends and family. I will not be throwing stones on this count – or at least, be throwing too many stones – when I am aware that I also commit the very same sin.
All I have to say to Lim is: I hope you are right. I hope that Anwar is indeed just making everything messier because he is cleaning the house. I hope that in three or four years, if Anwar is still around, like you said, everything will be clean and I will regret thinking so poorly of Anwar today.
But having said that, I also hope that as an elderly politician, you will not insult the intelligence of the people when you speak to us. Don’t just ask us to trust you or Anwar as if it is very obvious to us that all of you are such pure and genuine people.
Convince us. Make sense to us. Persuade us.
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