Sleeping with the enemy


Given Anwar’s age and Najib’s tenuous hold on his power, it is not entirely impossible for the two to have come to an agreement for their mutual survival.

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today

The DAP’s Ariff Sabri and blogger Shahbudin Husin are on to something. Both are prominent critics of Najib and his administration, so it’s no surprise that they picked up on what appears to be Malaysia’s newest odd couple – Prime Minister Najib Razak and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.

It appears that Najib and Anwar are joining forces to oppose a common enemy in former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, who, along with former prime minister Mahathir Mohamed, has been on the front lines of the anti-Najib sentiment in Barisan Nasional itself. Anwar has volunteered his services to the MACC to help bring Daim’s sins to light in a move that will only benefit the besieged Najib.

It’s no real surprise that Najib would seek out a man who has been his administration’s greatest enemy for most of his tenure. After all, he is fast running out of allies after a strong showing by the Mahathirists in Umno at the party’s general assembly last year, and Najib realizes that he will be deposed if he doesn’t comply with their demands. He knows too that even if he does comply, he will still be eliminated from the post slowly. If Anwar is presented as his best chance at political survival, Najib would embrace him with open arms.

The bigger question posed by this situation, however, is what exactly does Anwar stand to gain from such an arrangement. As speculated by Ariff and Shahbudin, the easiest answer that springs to mind is a favourable outcome to the Sodomy II saga that has embroiled the Opposition Leader’s life for so long. With no date set for the announcement of the verdict, working with Najib could be Anwar’s move for his political survival as a guilty verdict would crush all his efforts to reach the throne of Putrajaya.

But what if, as speculated by Shahbudin, the deal entails far more than merely a favourable verdict to Anwar’s own legal dilemma? It’s no secret that Pakatan Rakyat stands on shaky ground right now with the tensions between the component parties at an all time high. There is a strong possibility that PAS may strike off on its own given its partners’ opposition to its plan to implement hudud in Kelantan. And given its long-term ambition to enact hudud throughout Malaysia, the marriage of convenience is a heavy shackle for it.

A “unity government” between Anwar’s people and Najib’s would be an immense coup for the Opposition Leader, returning him to the nigh-untouchable status he held when he was the Deputy Prime Minister. A deal with Najib, as opposed to depending on a divided coalition like Pakatan, would move him closer to the throne.

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