A wake up call for Anwar

Raja Petra Kamarudin went on the offensive against Pakatan Rakyat and PKR at a forum in London. Is he about to turn his back on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or is it because he is growing impatient about coming home?

By Joceline Tan, The Star

DATUK Seri Nazri Aziz insists that his appeal to self-exiled blogger Raja Petra Kama­rudin to end his London exile and return home is totally sincere.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department asked Raja Petra, a cause celebre of sorts among his supporters back here, to come home to face the charges against him and, as he put it, to play the game according to the rules.

But, for Raja Petra, on the other side of the globe, the invitation must have been akin to staring into a lion’s mouth.

He must be thinking: “Do you think I’m stupid or what?”

But Nazri’s instincts about the famous blogger are quite spot on.

He senses that Raja Petra, who turned 60 last month, does not intend to spend the rest of his life in London.

Both are alpha males – competitive, aggressive and take-charge men who are not afraid of challenges and confrontation.

However, this is one challenge which Raja Petra is not about to take up, at least, not yet.

Several days ago, Raja Petra appeared alongside Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at a forum in London during which he spoke his mind on his disappointments about Pakatan Rakyat and the state governments under its control.

It was vintage RPK – no sugar-coating or beating around the bush.

Many thought that Raja Petra who once managed the Free Anwar Campaign website, had fallen out and turned against the Opposition leader.

He railed about how the Pakatan states had failed to live up to the promises made during the 2008 elections and that they had been incapable of implementing a single reform after more than two years in power.

He said he was even thinking of boycotting the alliance in the coming Galas by-election.

Raja Petra’s urgency about Pakatan’s reform, said a top Pakatan insider, is also tied to his desire to come home.

He believes he can only safely set foot in Malaysia if Pakatan comes to power.

In others words, no homecoming for him unless there is, what he terms, a regime change.

“It’s all very real to RPK. He does not want to die abroad, he wants to come home.

“He is not giving up on Anwar yet but Anwar’s inability to act decisively is a source of mounting frustration among this civil society group that RPK is part of. They feel like they have been running on the spot the last two-and-a-half years,” said the insider.

This circle is also getting fed-up of the way Pakatan leaders blame their shortcomings on the Barisan Nasional or point the finger at the mainstream media for highlighting their party troubles.

“We have been driving it home to Anwar that we should not kid ourselves.

“We did not win the March 8 elections, it was Barisan Nasional which lost it.

“We should look at our mandate and build on it every day.

“It was clear from the start that Selangor had to be our model state.

“You cannot be in control of a state like Selangor which has everything and then tell us you cannot do it,” said the insider.

Some of the main peeves of the group include Pakatan’s reluctance to implement local government elections as well as requiring its elected representatives to declare their assets.

They are disappointed with the way Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim hee-hawed over the issue of elected representatives declaring their assets as is practised in developed Western democracies.

They feel that if these elected representatives do not like it, if they cannot take the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.

Raja Petra and several others had huddled with Anwar to draw up an eight-point plan on visible deliverables that could be implemented by the Selangor government.

Anwar showed a lot of enthusiasm but the plan has remained largely a plan.

When told that local government elections were not possible, the group had suggested that Khalid hold a mock local election exercise in the Petaling Jaya City Council area, whereby the top three candidates would be appointed councillors.

It would have been a useful pilot scheme but nothing came of that.

Increasingly, fingers are being pointed at Anwar, questioning if he is all rhetoric and little action.

“He is blessed with charisma but is unable to focus on priorities and to trust and delegate people to do their job,” said the insider.

The sentiments of this group have rippled out to a wider circle.

Speakers at a forum held during the launch of the book The Road to Reform – Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor echoed similar concerns.

They applauded the state for its efforts towards transparency and welfare policies but noted that it was still a long way from real reform.

Many of these people have a lot riding on Pakatan’s survival and it is not just about seeing change and reform, but also about the taste of power.

In Raja Petra’s case, it includes being able to come home.

Even the pro-Umno website malaysia-instinct.com has caught on to the game and carried several satirical articles on the theme of “RPK, come home!”

Some of it is wickedly witty (sic), others just plain silly but still funny.

Raja Petra has quite sportingly posted several of these pieces on his Malaysia Today portal.

Said Nazri: “My advice to him is that there is nothing to fear.

“We will take good care of him, nobody would do anything to harm him.

“Even Dr Pornthip (the Thai pathologist) came and returned home safely.

“In all sincerity, I am asking him to come back.”