Anwar the icon more powerful than Anwar the leader


The fight for his freedom looks futile for now because there seems to be no focus.

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today 

Nearly three weeks have passed since Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced to five years’ jail for sodomy, effectively disqualifying him from further contesting in elections. Nearly three weeks have passed since what may be the end of an era in Malaysian politics, and in all those days, Anwar’s name has been making the headlines.

Anwar Ibrahim as an icon, as a political martyr, seems more powerful than he ever was in life. The perception of Anwar as a heroic figure comes from our vision of him standing tall, swearing to fight on even as nearly eight years of hard work to reach Putrajaya end in a prison cell.

Symbols have power and they are ubiquitous in the subconscious of society. The symbol of the martyr, the fallen revolutionary, is often more powerful than the living image of the revolutionary.

Now, however, the husk of PKR seems to be at a standstill, not knowing how to tackle the situation. On one hand, there is Nurul Nuha and her nightly protests that draw ever-smaller crowds outside the Sungai Buloh prison that her father currently calls his place of residence. There is the plea for a royal pardon from Nurul Izzah and her mother Wan Azizah. And there are voices that say that a royal pardon requires a petition from Anwar himself.

One must also note that Azmin Ali, once Anwar’s right hand man, has been conspicuous in his silence.