EVEN with the recent appointment of PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, one of the earliest supporters of the reformasi movement, UMNO supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam argued that the movement which started 25 years ago has yet to achieve its goals.
Speaking as a panelist at a forum commemorating the movement’s 25th anniversary, Lokman recounted how he was introduced to the term “reformasi” as a member of UMNO Youth in 1996.
At that time, the movement was led by UMNO Youth Chief Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and its aim was to challenge alleged corruption linked to then-PM and former UMNO president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“The outspokenness of UMNO Youth at the time, we fought against corruption, cronyism and nepotism […] and this eventually led to Anwar’s sacking,” said Lokman.
Anwar was sacked on Sept 2, 1998, and subsequent years saw him facing trials and convictions for corruption and sodomy charges.
Moreover, Lokman was among the UMNO Youth leaders who were dismissed alongside Anwar. They later became early supporters of Parti Keadilan Nasional, the predecessor of PKR, founded in 1999.
“For me, if you were to ask me, ‘is the reformasi movement a success?’ I will say it’s not a success. Because reformasi was started to eradicate practices of cronyism, nepotism and corruption under Dr Mahathir.
“But until today, we (government) are unable to drag Dr Mahathir to court (for alleged corruption) even after 25 years. So, for me, if we want to gauge the success of reformasi, at the very least we must drag him, charge him (Dr Mahathir) in court,” Malaysiakini quoted him as saying.
Unlike Anwar, Lokman claimed he had never trusted Dr Mahathir, citing two separate detentions without trial during his time outside of UMNO.
Lokman, who was readmitted to UMNO earlier this year and reappointed as a supreme council member, now supports Anwar’s government as part of Barisan Nasional.
The forum was organized by non-governmental organisation (NGO) Perahu Hamzah with support from the office of Selangor Youth, Sports and Entrepreneurship executive council member Najwan Halimi. Other panelists included political cartoonist Zulkiflee SM Anwar Haque, author Hasmi Hashim, former editor-in-chief of DAP’s The Rocket Wan Hamidi Hamid and former senator Yusmadi Yusoff.
Zulkiflee (better known as Zunar) suggested that the present administration elected last November should be given at least a year before being judged on its reform promises. He emphasised the importance of supporting Anwar in his ongoing reform efforts.
“Now Anwar is in ‘house cleaning’ mode. Just like entering into a new house with unorganised furniture and rubbish all over the place. Give him a chance this year to clean up the new house. Next year, we will evaluate if Anwar can commit to his reforms or not.” – Sept 22, 2023
Main photo credit: The Star