Anwar’s graft crackdown is ruffling feathers in Malaysia

History is his to make. If there are high-profile convictions, he will be regarded as having achieved the near-impossible. Anything less than a conviction will be of no value.

(UCA News) – For more than a week, rumors have been rife that several Malaysian political heavyweights met in Dubai recently to come up with a plan to overthrow Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s government.

The “Dubai Move” became public knowledge when on Dec 30, the government’s Community Communications Department confirmed that there was such a plot and that it involved those from the opposition bloc, and also leaders from Anwar’s ruling bloc.

Talk of Anwar losing support and likely being ousted has been circulating since he took the oath as prime minister in November 2022.

Opposition leaders though said there was no truth to the Dubai meeting and Anwar’s “agents” had created it as a diversion.

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal from the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia) called the rumors “unfounded.”

“The government is trying to distract the people from more pressing matters. The diesel subsidy rationalization is a problem, so they are creating diversions,” he said.

The plan to rationalize diesel subsidies started on Jan 1. It allows subsidized prices for select users while charging higher prices for others to prevent subsidy leakage. There is a fear that this will further push up  the prices of goods and services.

The rumors about the Dubai Move started when the government started a crackdown on corruption and abuse of power involving top politicians, with former finance minister Daim Zainuddin as the first target.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) seized his 58-storey building in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle — the city’s main shopping and nightlife district — on Dec 21. There are no details as to the charges against him but it was reported that he was being investigated for alleged money laundering involving the UEM-Renong case that wiped out US$27 billion of the stock market’s capitalization in 1997.

The 85-year-old Daim is known to have close ties with former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad having served in his cabinet as finance minister from 1984 to 1991. He is credited with successfully navigating Malaysia out of the 1987 recession, and rolling out the country’s privatization program.

When Daim resigned, Anwar replaced him as finance minister. Their once-close relationship turned sour and some say it had to do with the UEM-Renong case.

It is clear that that has been at the back of Anwar’s mind all these years. Several months before the general elections in 2022, he said, “He [Daim] would have sleepless nights [if Anwar became prime minister].”

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