A future without Anwar


If it fails to move beyond Anwar, Pakatan can forget about mounting a unified, coordinated challenge against BN in the 14th general election.

Sheridan Mahavera, TMI

They did not say it outright, but even Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim did not tip toe around the elephant in the room at yesterday’s Pakatan Rakyat convention.

The reality is that the coalition is facing a very real future without the opposition leader at its helm. They are also going to lose their only prime ministerial candidate.

As Anwar admits to the possibility of going to jail again, the coalition is looking deep inside itself for a way to carry on without him, beyond the Kajang by-election.

Pakatan is confident that it will win Kajang without Anwar given that the seat is a PKR stronghold. In the last general election, PKR’s Lee Chin Cheh won the Kajang seat with a 6,000-vote majority over Barisan Nasional (BN) and a few other independent candidates.

But what matters is the long term. Especially without someone with Anwar’s skills to soothe the ideological differences between PAS, PKR and DAP that get in between their ability to work together and see eye-to-eye.

If it fails to move beyond Anwar, Pakatan can forget about mounting a unified, coordinated challenge against BN in the 14th general election.

To an audience of the party’s most seasoned activists and key leaders, Anwar himself said that at the most, he would only be free for another two months. This is while he makes his final appeal to the Federal Court.

His conviction for sodomy was essentially put into force yesterday by the Court of Appeal. The court also handed down a sentence of five years to Anwar, who is now 66.

Anwar and other Pakatan leaders have very little doubt that he will be going to jail for the second time in his life, in what they said are trumped up charges by the BN who manipulated the courts.

“I will be going to Kajang for good,” Anwar smiled to his audience whose mood seemed to waver between sadness and anger. It was a play on the Kajang prison and the Kajang by-election where he was supposed to stand as a candidate.

His conviction disqualifies him from contesting.

“Or maybe Sungai Buloh,” he said referring to the Sungai Buloh prison, where he spent four years behind bars after being convicted in 1999 for abuse of power.

“Whatever it is, you must all take care of Pakatan and ensure it continues. I do not take all the credit for it because there have been many leaders who have been instrumental in its formation and continuation.”

One of those senior leaders in Pakatan is PAS secretary-general, Datuk Mustafa Ali, who talked of rough times ahead and of the real possibility of the coalition fracturing because of competing ideologies.

Mustafa himself was at the centre of the break up of Barisan Alternatif, the short-lived coalition that was the precursor to Pakatan.