Opposition pact fraying as Anwar fights to clear name

ANALYSIS

JUNE 30 — The March general elections have brought political uncertainty to Malaysia with the latest victims being the Opposition parties, brought together by the charismatic Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim but now fraying as he fights to clear his name in another sexual misconduct charge.

The sodomy allegations comes just when Anwar claims to be a heartbeat away from taking over the govenment, an uncanny repeat of 1998 when he was sacked as deputy prime minister on similar charges.

While Anwar is battling the accusations with his own of an assassination conspiracy, the Opposition pact he has welded on the strength of his political acumen and charisma is slowly unraveling as his allies pursue their own agendas.

His Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) was shaken earlier when Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim suspended aide Yahaya Shari for alleged financial misconduct. Yahaya , a reformasi veteran from the days of Anwar’s sacking, threw a fit and quit saying he has lost confidence in Khalid.

Khalid, a corporate figure handpicked by Anwar, has also been villified by PKR veterans who claim party warriors were being sidelined for local council appointments, much to the chagrin of voters who expected the party to implement local council elections.

Just days ago before the latest bombshell, Anwar dismissed the differences between Khalid and PKR veterans saying PKR Selangor would continue to support Khalid while honouring Yahaya’s contributions.

“I am amazed by the spirit and commitment of party colleagues in Selangor. Insha Allah, everything will work out better,” he wrote in his http://www.anwaribrahimblog.com on June 26.

But it is not working out better. That was the day that his estranged personal aide claimed he was sodomised in a Damansara apartment, putting in motion the flow of events that is keeping Anwar from steering and keeping the Opposition pact together even as he tries to tempt others to join him.

Even with Anwar at the helm, the nascent Pakatan Rakyat coalition partners have sniped at each other with Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) pushing for Islam-based governance in all Opposition-ruled states while the Democratic Action Party (DAP) sticks to its secular stance.

PAS veteran election strategist Mustafa Ali has started a blog with his first posting flaying both Khalid and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for their leadership styles in their respective states.

But the PAS Terengganu commisioner has also not spared his party’s Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaludin’s decision to hand over 999-year leases to new villages in Perak, saying its unusual and a colonial-era move that would ruffle those who only get 99-year leases, particularly landowners in Malay villages.

“If the land offer is to get political mileage among certain groups, my opinion is that the state government should study the negative implications from other groups in the state,” Mustafa wrote in his blog when criticising the Perak menteri besar.

The coalition’s internal squabbles, whether intra-party or inter-party, has been overshadowed by Anwar’s overtures to get BN lawmakers to defect to show their dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership.

Only the tiny Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) have made an initial move against Abdullah with an aborted no-confidence vote but it has yet to leave BN or join Pakatan Rakyat, something which Anwar has promised will happen either in May, June or latest Malaysia Day on Sept 16.

His current battle – which he says is a ploy to distract public atttention from rising food and fuel prices and other scandals blighting Abdullah’s administration – puts all his hard work at risk of not producing results and adds political uncertainty to the coalition partners who completed their first 100 days in office in five states two weeks ago.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today that the Opposition pact is still uncertain and not definite especially with Anwar’s latest imbroglio.

“Depends on how the political winds blow and public perception holds,” the Penang chief minister told The Malaysian Insider when asked about the fast-moving events over the weekend.

Anwar is working hard to keep public perception on his side and has taken steps to sue the political aide for defamation and asking for Abdullah’s personal guarantee for his safety, in an allusion to his beating when arrested in 1998.

But he is fighting against a BN government that is also fighting for its own survival despite having a simple majority in Parliament. Abdullah is working overtime to charm his party to continue to support him and implement reforms while his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is battling perceptions that he and family members are ruthless and capable of murder – be it of Anwar or the Mongolian model a few years ago.

All three are battling public perceptions and while Anwar seems to have the upper hand, time will tell if his battle will be at the expense of his and his allies’ quick rise to power come Malaysia Day.

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