Dedicated spotters of our ever-elusive Opposition Leader are often hard-pressed to know where to seek their quarry. We can relatively quickly eliminate Selangor, where he is economic adviser; attending a Pakatan Rakyat meeting to produce a joint manifesto is fairly low on the list as well.
Higher-probability nesting spots include pricey Mumbai restaurants with foreign journalists; meetings with other foreign journalists opining on defending Israel and liberalising the sodomy laws; in court, suing someone for RM100 million; and at any one of the world's five-star hotels.
It's not a bad life for a man who lives selflessly for the rakyat, the self-styled Voice of Democracy in Malaysia.
Those who were worried that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim might actually dirty his hands with trivialities like good coalition governance and coherence, helping his coalition design a jointly agreed manifesto, resolving the DAP-PAS split over hudud law, and so on, can rest assured. He is now safely ensconced at a luxury hotel in Dubai.
It would be far too easy to mock the man for promoting something he just spent a day in the Dewan Rakyat attacking. (Perhaps he is in Dubai hoping to hire APCO on his own?) But let us put that aside.
Anwar has billed himself, for the last decade and more, as a singular figure. By his own reckoning, he is like Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. And perhaps Joan of Arc, George Washington, Genghis Khan (without all of the killing), Mahatma Gandhi, and Dag Hammarskjold. Regardless, he has sold himself as a world-transforming martyr-saviour figure who can bring together the disparate factions of Pakatan Rakyat and lead Malaysia into a golden age.
With Anwar as Prime Minister of course.
If this is how he has sold himself to Pakatan Rakyat, and not just to everyday Malaysians, the Opposition should ask for its money back.
Since 2008, the Opposition coalition has failed to produce any of the normal features of a responsible Opposition -- a shadow cabinet, a joint manifesto, a hint of joint policy, anything. If Anwar is all that he claims to be -- and why shouldn't we take him at his word? -- then Pakatan Rakyat is nothing more than a motley collection of incompetents who cannot even find common ground beyond a mutual hatred of Umno.
Which may be satisfying to its partisans, but is thin gruel to anyone wanting leadership.
If Pakatan Rakyat could be coherent with a competent Opposition leader, then why keep Anwar around? It cannot be because of his intense, on-the-ground management style. It cannot be because he has been successful.