Monday, May 20, 2013

Anwar's self-pity bandwagon rolls on

Anwar's Ibrahim's nationwide self-pity tour is becoming so surreal it requires us to pause and review what is going on.
In short, he is criss-crossing Malaysia to stand in front of a microphone and tell of his "disgust" for the GE13 result, which he says was "stolen" from Pakatan Rakyat. He is, with a straight face, calling on the Election Commission to reverse the outcome of a poll which was approved by international observers and he is calling for the rakyat to take to the streets and force a change of government through civil unrest.
Anwar soldiers on with this increasingly hysterical strategy despite a few obvious flaws. Firstly, PAS, DAP and PKR more than a week ago accepted the result as have all successful Pakatan candidates who are happily on their way to the Dewan Rakyat.
The other problem for Anwar is that those he is sharing the stage with, which Saturday in George Town included Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng and Karpal Singh are steadfastly refusing to support Anwar's militant position when it is their turn to speak at these emotive mass rallies. Either Anwar can't see that he is isolated or he doesn't care.
And the final problem with all this is that Anwar's core argument is factually flawed. Essentially he is saying that because Pakatan Rakyat edged Barisan Nasional in the overall vote at GE13, this somehow means he "won" the election. But Malaysia, as is the case with just about every bi-cameral parliamentary democracy in the world, is based on seats in the lower house, not total overall votes.
Anwar knows this as well as anyone but is gleefully ignoring the facts.
Furthermore, Anwar is now using his flawed argument to justify breaking a key promise made ahead of GE13. Anwar pledged that if he lost the election he would bow out of politics and public life and take up a job lecturing at a university, possibly in Australia.
But now he is vowing to stay on, possibly until GE14 using this justification: "Yes, I said I would retire from politics if Pakatan loses. Some told me to retire as promised and to fight it out next time," he said in George Town.
"But why should I retire? We won. Are Umno people stupid? We won and we will fight together with the people against this robbery."
In other words: I am breaking my pledge – once again – and I don't care what you think.
In recent days Anwar's rhetoric has become even shriller, with his claim that he is set to be arrested for his tedious road show of self-pity. What he means is that he is trying to get arrested, which would help fuel his long-cultivated martyr persona.
All this has prompted as to whether Anwar cares anymore about his waning credibility. The sight of him carrying on in this way, while his colleagues adopt a far more rational stance as personified by Lim Kit Siang, is both sad and disturbing.
What we are seeing is Anwar in his favourite environment, giving "thundering" speeches with his fist in the air (to borrow the word of choice of the Pakatan-friendly media) rather than doing all the important things like recasting his team for the coming term of Opposition (which in most circumstances would require shadow cabinet).

The Anwar bandwagon rumbles on and it does no one any favours. It's not good for Malaysian politics at a time when our leaders are facing fresh challenges and it isn't good for Anwar's reputation.
Not that he cares.

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