Anwar Ibrahim has littered his recent political past with promises he cannot possibly keep. And now he has made the mother of all promises. He has promised to champion the race and religious specific cause of Hindraf. This promise could be his undoing.
Anwar was quoted by the social media yesterday as saying that should Pakatan Rakyat assume federal power, Hindraf's five-year blueprint on resolving the Indian community's problems will be implemented within 100 days.
Anwar knows he has bitten off more than he can chew. Why then did he make that promise? Simple. He was blinded by his all-consuming ambition to move into the Prime Minister's residence in Putrajaya.
When asked at the meeting in Shah Alam on Friday night whether he would support Hindraf's six-point demands, he was caught between a rock and a hard place. Since September last year, PKR had been dragging its feet when Hindraf asked it to endorse its blueprint for the Indian community. More recently, Hindraf leaders became impatient at PKR's foot-dragging. They warned that Pakatan's "inordinate delay" in endorsing the blueprint may result in the coalition losing Indian support in the coming election.
So, this time around, if he had not made a firm commitment to Hindraf, his goose would have been cooked. He would have permanently lost Hindraf support. Faced with that prospect, he was forced to respond positively.
Now, Anwar has to face the consequences of his hasty reply. And the repercussions are grave for him, for his political party and for the opposition coalition.
In essence, the Hindraf's six demands in its blueprint are Indian-specific. Therefore, by agreeing to back Hindraf's demands, Anwar has committed himself and unwittingly his Pakatan partners to fight for Indian causes.
If he pursues this line, he will be dumped by the Malays and sabotaged by the Chinese, the Dayaks, Ibans and all the other natives of Sabah and Sarawak because he has not made similar promises to them.
He will also have to face the wrath of his coalition partners who have made no similar concession to any other race-based NGO. Even the Buku Jingga, which the three partners cobbled together, is not race-specific.
So how will Anwar try to extricate himself? Just as he has always tried to do. And that is by trying to be too clever by half.
He tried that trick again at the gathering in Shah Alam. He refused to reduce his commitment to Hindraf in writing. He said he would not sign on the dotted line. Now that is his exit strategy. Or so he thinks. Indians are no more the gullible people Anwar takes them to be.
They are wise to Anwar's double talk. They won't rest till they get the PKR Supremo to give them a written undertaking to support their blueprint. They will not settle for anything less.
Anwar's 2013 commitment to Hindraf also means he agrees to their demand to end 'institutionalised racism', a term which is their label for special privileges benefitting only Bumiputeras. But what has been Anwar's public stand on this issue of Bumiputera special privileges? In 2009, Anwar defended Malays’ special privileges and added that these rights should not be questioned by non-Malays. He has since not changed his stand.
So, Anwar stands for Malay special privileges and also supports Hindraf's call to abolish them? Surely Anwar has dug his own grave. He has made a promise to Hindraf that he can't keep. But maybe he always knew this to be the case and was simply playing for time.
Anwar will also be in hot soup with his coalition partners for not seeking their sanction before making his commitment to Hindraf. Their prior consent is necessary, said PKR Vice-President Tian Chua. Tian Chua was recently quoted as saying that "when it comes to formulating a political programme, we have stressed to Hindraf that PKR will not act unilaterally or without consensus from all 3 “partners” in Pakatan Rakyat. The blueprint proposed by Hindraf must first be presented to the Pakatan Rakyat leadership council for discussion and approval. This process is yet to take place, therefore it is too early to announce the signing of any agreement."
Observers say this promise was another of Anwar's ploys. He has no intention of keeping his promise, and that's why he is refusing to sign the document. He is simply lying to Indians just to get their votes. He will ditch them afterwards.
What has hitherto been his or his coalition partners' record when it comes to championing Indian causes anyway? The answer; a very disappointing and weak record.
Distrusted by many Malays, viewed with suspicion by many Indians, and treated with caution by many Chinese, is Anwar Ibrahim on a roller coaster ride to political oblivion? The answer…