“Is Tun M afraid that Anwar may dig into his corrupt past?”

I HAVE always wondered why there is such a strong and firm resistance in appointing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister (PM).

He was once the second most important person in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. However, Dr Mahathir has always found ways and means to prevent Anwar from becoming PM.

Furthermore, Anwar was jailed on certain false accusations. Dr Mahathir had once insisted that Anwar will not become PM as long as he is there.

Another former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak may not be as evil as Dr Mahathir but still assured that Anwar will not become PM. As before, Anwar was prosecuted and jailed.

In 2018, Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over political power on the understanding that Anwar would be appointed PM in the near future.

However, due to Anwar being jailed in the Sungai Buloh Prison back then, Dr Mahathir was appointed the interim PM until Anwar’s pardon and eventual return to the political arena.

But despite giving the impression that he is a changed person, Dr Mahathir still refused to hand over his PM post to Anwar.

He resisted stepping down from his position after two years. Anwar was impatiently waiting on the sidelines to take over the position, hence his hopes were sunk.

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy

Meanwhile, Mahathir was busy degrading Anwar in PKR by supporting Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and other senior leaders. The main cause of Sheraton Move might be different, but Dr Mahathir was also involved.

Without his grace, the move would not have happened. However, he resigned because he wanted to be the PM for life by choosing the minister of his choice. It was this selfish initiative that was the main driver of Sheraton Move.

Animosity towards Anwar

When Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Ismail became PMs, Anwar did not have a strong figure supporting him to become PM.

He finally succeeded after the 15th General Election (GE15) despite not having numbers, but the inclusion of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) brought majority numbers to form the unity government.

Muhyiddin tried his best to prevent Anwar from becoming PM by using a dubious affidavit submission. But it was filtered by His Highness the Yang si-Pertuan Agong as unimportant.

Previously, the Agong had an unpleasant experience in connection with affidavit – a kind of magical formula for Muhyiddin to achieve his desired PM post.

Turning to the bigger question, one wonders why was there so much resistance to Anwar becoming PM?

The answers that Anwar has provided in the last few days pointed to his actions in rooting out corruption which led to the arrest of three Bersatu leaders, including its president Muhyiddin on six charges of abuse of power and money laundering.

More arrests are expected to be made, including those who secretly bribed and amassed their wealth in the previous period.

Anwar a staunch graft buster

Dr Mahathir opposed Anwar not because he was seen as his competitor or because he is a populist.

Anwar is seen as someone who will root out corruption and abuse of power. Dr Mahathir knows that an empowered Anwar will not stop running after those corrupt politicians.

Anwar will not hesitate to include hauling Dr Mahathir to court for being involved in cronyism and nepotism. This is why Dr Mahathir had to prevent Anwar from becoming the PM by making false accusations against him.

Ultimately, Anwar was punched in the jail before being taken to court in a bizarre process to imprison Anwar. Najib like Dr Mahathir sees the danger risk in Anwar.

There is a constant concern that Anwar if given power will pursue their non-material political positions. In Muhyiddin’s case, he may have fought the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) scandal but whether he fought corruption is doubtful.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

In two examples of submission of affidavits – during the GE14 and GE15 respectively – Muhyiddin succeeded in the first attempt to refrain Anwar from his dream of becoming the PM but failed in the second attempt.

In just a few months following his ascension to power – and despite some swings on his side – Anwar is already seriously chasing down the corrupt and misuse of power. The Malaysian Anri-Corruption Commission (MACC) is already working in hectic overtime by casting a net far and wide to arrest guilty parties.

Three key Bersatu leaders have been arrested and charged including Muhyiddin. Corruption charges thrown by them against the other parties are now hitting Bersatu leaders like boomerang.

Only Anwar can fight corruption

Corruption is not a new phenomenon in Malaysia; it is rooted during the notorious Dr Mahathir administration. Dr Mahathir’s cronies have earned huge amounts of money through policies reek of prejudice and nepotism.

Former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin who is still around is one of the main beneficiaries of Dr Mahathir’s pro-Malay policy.

In fact, there are a few more. Anwar has no choice but to act against corruption. He needs to make changes now.

Malaysia’s vast foreign debt that amounts to RM1.5 tril is caused by certain factors, primarily financial embezzlement due to corruption and other misconduct. Those who previously talked about corruption did nothing to eradicate it.

I think Anwar is leading and making changes. The fight against symptoms of corruption, abuse of power and other defiance must begin now.

If Anwar fails to move despite having profound stakes, I don’t think any other PM after him will have the political will and open-mindedness to eliminate the threat. – March 13, 2023


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyman for Perai. He is also Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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