The handshake that should worry the BN


A reconciliation between Anwar and Mahathir can ignite the spark needed to address the opposition’s biggest weakness: political lethargy.

Abdar Rahman Koya, Free Malaysia Today

For those of us whose exposure to Malaysian politics began in 1998, yesterday’s handshake between Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim was surreal and, of course, historic.

Eighteen years ago, the forty-something among us today had just graduated into a volatile economy, only to find ourselves thrust into the streets every Saturday afternoon punching the air and shouting slogans demanding Mahathir’s resignation.

Young adults of that era would have moved on today, getting busy with bread and butter issues and probably having to deal with protests by their young ones that would now and then flare up at home.

Yet, most will agree that the 1998-1999 period was the best of times and the worst of times for Malaysia.

It was during this period that Kuala Lumpur witnessed some of the largest anti-government rallies in its history, and they came at a time when it was taboo to even mention the idea of toppling Mahathir, someone who had given himself the image of the Great Leader.

A rare explosion of opposition rallied under one leader armed with his charisma and singled out another leader as the source of all of the country’s ills. It struck a chord that has kept playing for 18 years, during which time Anwar and Mahathir proved themselves to be the two toughest nuts in Malaysian politics.

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