Has Anwar started to show the true colours of being a Mandela equivalent after 10 months in office?

POLITICAL scientist Datuk Dr Marzuki Mohamad ignited a rather interesting ‘brain teaser’ when he drew similarities between Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Nelson Mandela who are “freedom fighters” in their own right.

“The only difference is – as Anwar admitted in an interview with the international media recently, Mandela’s struggle was a ‘long walk to freedom’ (having spent 27 years behind bars) while his was a ‘short walk to freedom’,” the former political aide to eighth premier Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin penned in a recent Facebook post.

“According to my observation, another difference is that Mandela was imprisoned for fighting to free the people of South Africa from the grip of Apartheid. As for Anwar, many of my friends were imprisoned for fighting to free Anwar.”

In a reaction to a netizen’s remark that “there is a mountain of a difference” between Anwar and the first black president of South Africa, Marzuki who previously served the Bersatu president as former principal private secretary insisted that his observation “could be the mother of all other differences”.

Datuk Dr Marzuki Mohamad

“In other words, though both are freedom fighters, Mandela fought for his people’s freedom while in Anwar’s case, the people fought for his freedom. The evidence was glaring from the days his supporters launched the ‘Free Anwar Campaign’. And the one who led this campaign is now critical of Anwar himself.”

This brings to mind the writing of senior lawyer and Bar Council member Datuk Roger Tan Kor Mee who reckoned that Anwar who is “perhaps the most persecuted politician in Malaysia” possess the quality of Mandela by being able to forgive perpetrators who were behind his jailing and various other hardship.

Moreover, the icon of the reformasi movement endured 11 years in jail (for corruption and sodomy) and having waited for 24 years as PM-in-waiting before assuming the post in Nov 24 last year.

“All in all, Mr Prime Minister, you can become Malaysia’s Mandela if you show compassion and magnanimity to those who have not elected PH (Pakatan Harapan) by working towards national cohesion but without any compromise whatsoever in corruption or any step which will undermine good governance, transparency and accountability in your administration.

“This is, of course, no easy feat, especially in order to ensure that Parliament will not be dissolved before it completes its five-year term. Also, two by-elections will be held soon, and we will see six state elections being held next year. In five years’ time, he will also be an octogenarian.” penned Tan in his Malay Mail column dated Nov 27, 2022.

At the moment, perhaps Anwar seems to be the closest Mandela equivalent that Malaysians can fathom out after now incarcerated former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak fell out of contention.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak

Recall that son Mohd Nizar Najib has compared his father’s imprisonment to that of Mandela’s experience by contending that he would rise above the challenges similar to what the South African anti-apartheid leader did.

“This is what happened to Prophet Yusuf who was framed on a false charge and was elevated to a ministerial level in ancient Egypt after he was released,” Nixar  said during his speech at the Solidarity for Najib event in Pekan, Pahang on Sept 5 last year.

“The same happened to Nelson Mandela who was jailed for opposing apartheid and went on to become the South African president who re-united people in his country upon his release. One thing for certain, God will not test his believers more than what they can take,” – Oct 2, 2023

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