“Crying wolf” won’t enhance Anwar’s image

Anwar needs a new strategy


There is real danger that Anwar may erode his own credibility, just as the boy shepherd did in the Greek Aesop’s fable “The boy who cried wolf”.

Over the last few months, we have seen prime minister Anwar Ibrahim make announcements that build momentum and expectation for potential good news for Malaysia.

Last week Anwar announced he was to have a meeting with Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Musk, last March announced that Tesla would open a head office in Malaysia and establish a network of showrooms, import Tesla EVs, and develop a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. The way the meeting was reported was that the meeting would be a physical face to face meetings, and there was chance that Musk may make a deep commitment to Malaysia. “Next week, Elon Musk asked to discuss with me the possibility and his commitment to increase his investments in Malaysia,” Anwar said in a speech during an event with civil servants at the Seremban City Hall in Negeri Sembilan.

The announcement of the presence of various officials, including Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun, Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook, Chief Secretary to the State Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali, and Director General of Public Services Datuk Dr Zulkapli Mohamed, underscored the importance of this meeting for Malaysia’s economic development.

However, the July 13 meeting between Anwar and Musk was a virtual one, via Zoom. There is nothing wrong with a virtual meeting, but it was played up as a billionaire chasing Anwar.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the call began at 9.30am, and lasted 25 minutes, and was attended only by ministers Tengku Zafrul Aziz and Fahmi Fadzil, not the long list announced previously.

What was strange about the call, initiated by Musk, according to Anwar was that Musk didn’t bring up any issues. Primarily the call was a thank you from Anwar to Musk for announcing the set up of a Tesla sales organization within Malaysia.

After the meeting, Musk made no announcements on Twitter. Anwar and the PMO also didn’t make any comments about what Musk had brought up to Anwar, in the meeting Musk had supposedly requested.

According to a news report, at the same time as the meeting was going on between Anwar and Musk, Musk had made a number of unrelated tweets, via his mobile phone.

Self-inflicted criticisms from Anwar’s China visit

Before Anwar made his trip to China late March, he also pre-announced that a new investment representing the government’s highest commitment would be unveiled while he was in China. Anwar was referring to the 19 MOUs signed between Malaysian and Chinese companies during his forthcoming visit.

If no hype was made over the MoUs, the ceremony would have just gone by unnoticed. Many have scrutinized the list released on April 1, claiming details are scant, and hurriedly prepared. There are questions about how many of the MoUs will actually eventuate and turn into a real ‘brick and mortar’ investment.

Talk around town on this issue, inferred that MoU signing event was hurriedly prepared and staged as a showpiece. The poster at the back of the stage appeared to give this away as it stated “MoU Witnessing Ceremony”.https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-election/malaysias-anwar-raises-voter-fraud-alarm-ahead-of-election-idUSBRE9410K620130502

The reality is if Anwar didn’t make any announcements about major unprecedented investments, there would have been no criticisms over his trip to China. Making such a hyped-up announcement was counterproductive for Anwar. It is really uncertain how much of the RM 170 billion investment will actually eventuate.

A long history of “crying wolf”

There is a history of “crying wolf” by Anwar.

1. In 2008, after PH had an election Tsunami against the ruling Barisan Nasional government, Anwar talked up a mutiny against then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi from Sabah MPs. At that time, the opposition led by Anwar needed 30 seats to takeover government. The whole episode appeared to bluff, although some believe there was some substance to the move, which never happened.

2. After the 2013 general election Anwar complained about election fraud, phantom voters and a host of unscheduled flights from Sabah to the peninsula to ferry in voters. The emails presented were unable to be verified.

3. In 2017, Anwar claimed he had enough MPs to topple the Najib government, in what became a second September 16 move. This failed to eventuate when the speaker refused to call a special session of parliament.

4. In 2020, Anwar claimed he had the parliamentary numbers to topple Muhyiddin Yassin’s government. This also never eventuated.

Anwar as prime minister doesn’t have to engage in this strategy of talking up events that either don’t eventuate, or fail built up expectations. Anwar’s advisors need to be sacked, as they are discrediting his reputation.

Malaysia must move beyond cheap political tricks.