Nauseating to some, jealousy for others but it is a necessary truth to be told

SINCE the launch of Anwar: The Untold Story (ATUS) on May 19 – and its first day’s rake of RM1 mil in ticket sales – the film may make it to be the country’s latest blockbuster to hit the cinema screen.

Based on Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s struggle against corruption, cronyism and nepotism, ATUS has a number of scenes which are emotionally very touching.

What is interesting is that the movie has even stirred up the jealousy of a former minister and caused another loyalist of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad to nauseate.

If a celebrity is one who is cheered everywhere he goes – with or without the 90-minute film screened in 120 cinemas around the country – Anwar would still meet the mark as a celebrity PM.

By comparing Anwar with Dr Mahathir on who is a celebrity, Indera Mahkota-Bersatu MP Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah received brickbats from netizens who lashed out at him.

His wife Datin Seri Norlin Shamsul Bahri also received lashings from netizens when she questioned Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad for bringing his children to an official function at Istana Negara.

While Nik Nazmi had clarified that he brought his wife and children as the palace had “instructed us to bring my wife, children and grandchildren,” Saifuddin courted another round of controversy.

The two-time party hopper from UMNO to PKR to Bersatu should have realised that unlike Anwar, Dr Mahathir did not enjoy the celebrity status in the international arena. Dr Mahathir was called a ‘recalcitrant’ by former Australian PM Paul Keating while former US vice president Al Gore walked out of the room when Dr Mahathir was delivering his speech.

On a number of occasions, Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew had levelled strong criticisms against Dr Mahathir. Even Bapa Malaysia the late Tunku Abdul Rahman and Malaysia’s third Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn had both openly criticised Dr Mahathir’s 22-year administration.

It is time for people like Saifuddin to acknowledge that Dr Mahathir’s glory years are over since the nonagenarian was trounced in his Langkawi parliamentary constituency in the last general election in November 2022.

To put in perspective, the timing of the screening was never planned when its executive producer Zulkiflee Anwarul Haq (Zunar) first started working on the film back in April 2021. The film was only completed in January 2023.

If Anwar had not been PM, the movie would still have gone ahead to be screened to the Malaysian public – and given the strict control by the Home Ministry – Zunar’s last resort would be to upload on the social media.

The local political cartoonist said the movie gave a detailed account for the first time how Anwar was punched, slapped and karate seven times while being blindfolded in the police lock-up at Bukit Aman in September 1998.

We based this episode on the Royal Commission of Enquiry in April 1999,” he told FocusM. “The film will give the young people a snapshot of what happened when Anwar started to fight against corruption which led to his sacking as deputy PM and finance minister, and subsequently the ‘black eye’ incident.”

The film helped to piece together the full story to enable Malaysians to appreciate Anwar’s 24-year journey before eventually becoming the country’s 10th PM (PMX).

According to Zunar, already there are requests pouring in from the public, for him to produce Part 2 of Anwar’s story. “Many have also asked me to work on Azizah’s (Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail) side of the story,” he added.

In the past, Zunar said the Malaysian public have only been given the official version of what happened to Anwar. “Do you think Anwar beat himself up?” he asked. “You decide for yourself after watching the movie. We want Malaysians to be given the victim, Anwar’s own perspective why he was sacked and subsequently framed and spent a total of 10 years in jail.”

Anwar: The Untold Story, he added, focused on PMX’s own fight against corruption. It even touched on the Perwaja case, Konsortium Perkapalan Bhd (KPB) and toll tariffs during Dr Mahathir’s era. – May 22, 2023

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