| THURSDAY MARCH 27 2008
One footin the door
DESPITE A BAD BACK AND FATIGUE FROM TWO WEEKSOF CRISS-CROSSING THE NATION, PARTI KEADILANRAKYAT (PKR) DE-FACTO LEADER AND FORMER DEPUTYPRIME MINISTER DATUK SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM ISALL SMILES, FOLLOWING THE ALTERNATIVE FRONT’SUNPRECEDENTED PERFORMANCE IN THE RECENTGENERAL ELECTION AND HIS IMPENDING RETURN TOACTIVE POLITICS. HE TELLS
OF THE CHALLENGES IN GOINGINTO THE POLLS AND THE EVEN BIGGER TESTS AHEAD.
Nades: One of your biggestchallenges was (prior tothe elections) getting acohesive team. You hadthree different parties withthree different ideologies.How did you manage tounite and convince them onhaving straight ﬁghts?Anwar:
What’s so different about Umno, MCA and MIC?Or PBB or PBS or PBDS. Onetalks about
,one talks about Chinesesurvival, one wants Indianaffairs resolved. It does not seem to be contentious as inpractice they were able toshow a cohesive stance.Similarly within Keadilan,PAS and DAP. Other thanwhat’s perceived fromoutside … look at the mannerthey conducted the electioncampaign, they were togetherand worked well. We haveChinese voting for PAS, Malays voting for DAP. The peoplehave spoken. They said:“Look, we want a cohesiveOpposition, so today, so-calledcontentious issues of the past,like the Islamic State andHudud have been resolved. It’sneither their (PAS’) manifestonor their agenda anymore.”
Nades: How did youmanage to get PAS to dropthe Islamic State agendawhich they had been sovociferous on in previouselections?
I’ve convinced themand they also know myposition ... if you want me to beinvolved, this is my position.Similarly with Keadilan andDAP. They must be seen to bemultiracial and not questioningthe position of Bahasa or theMalay position. You can adjust but the paramount interest of justice, catering to those whoare poor and marginalised,covering all races must berealised. I think what wasachieved last night (a meetingbetween PKR, DAP and PAS)is a very important beginning.We sat down and discussed forhours and looked at the issuesand it was agreed that we must unite and make politicallyexpedient decisions.
Terence: It seems thatwhen you go into electionsit is easy to have acommon front. But likewhat happened in Perak shows that once you gainpower, it is a different storyaltogether.Anwar:
What happened inPerak is less problematic(than those) in Perlis andTerengganu (laughs). Becausethe media is controlled bythem; that is why the focus ison Perak and Selangor.But I don’t deny that thereare problems. Even withinKeadilan, we have contendingcandidates, the DAP and PASalso have issues. But in thecase of Perak, I understandthe problem. PAS had the least number of seats so naturally,for DAP to take a tougherstance is quite understandable.(But) Why does the mediaplay up this huge issue? Wetook a position that was quitetough too – we support the MB;we support the administrationbut we refused to participate inthe administration unless thespirit of cooperation is there.I have enough problemsin Penang with having eight non-Malays and two Malays.To have a similar arrangement in Perak would not be wise. It does not mean the Oppositionis cracking up and to be fair toDAP, they made adjustments.And I have to record myappreciation.That’s in the past, nowcontrary to popular perceptionthat the collaboration is merelyprior to elections or prior toforming a government ... asof last night (March 18), wehave now entered into thisnew arrangement. It will be amuch more cohesive force as it will not be like the BN or PASor DAP… here is the agenda,about constitutionalguarantees, what about the Malaysian EconomicAgenda, basic toleranceand the perceiveddominance of onerace against theothers.
Terence: Youneeded thisnew resolutionbecause youwere ill-preparedfor the aftermathof the electionswhere BarisanRakyat took ﬁvestates and KualaLumpur? Younever expectedthe results.Anwar
: I was very conﬁdent that we will take over the wholegovernment. We crossed theone-third mark a long timeago.
Nades: Reading yourcomments in a Singaporeinterview, we said maybeAnwar is overconﬁdent?Anwar is sounding cockythat he can form thegovernment.Anwar:
The interview inSingapore was given after theycancelled the indelible inkand the reason they cancelledthe ink was because we wereedging towards that (winningthe election). We had passed48% of the popular vote.Edging about 2% a day of theshift; and they knew that.That’s why they cancelled theindelible ink. Which meansthey had 3-4% votes to cheat.So imagine if they had used theink? And the postal votes? Wewould have won easily.
Nades: Should the postalvotes be abolished aswe are not at war or inemergency. It was (mostly)meant for our servicemenin the jungles during theEmergency and the waragainst the communists.Anwar:
No. Postal voting canbe conducted in a transparent and fair manner. These people… they virtually have robbedthe people of their votes.Like in Setiawangsa (whichwas won by Datuk SeriZulhasnan Raﬁque) … wewon. Then came 14,000 postal votes.
Terence: We cannot provethis but is there any truththat in Lembah Pantai,where your daughter NurulIzzah was contesting (andwon against Datuk SeriShahrizat Abdul Jalil), therewere similar attempts?Anwar:
Yes. But there was not enough to go around. In TelukKemang 7,000 postal voteswere brought in, still our guysmanaged to win.Which means the numbersupporting us is big. That’swhy I said, we will win if we get 55%. Even during thecampaign I said you want towin with 50%, forget it!
Nades: How are you goingto put your economic planinto action while dealingwith the sensitive topic of the NEP?Anwar:
I drafted the MEA(Malaysian Economic Agenda)a year ago and gave a detailedexplanation to civil servantsabout what we have plannedfor the poor and marginalisedMalays, Chinese and Indians.We should start with regainingour competitiveness which wehave lost, and attract moreforeign direct investment. Wehave to build the economyupwards. With that in mind,then we can talk about distributive justice and equity.
Terence: It seems thatonly Umno is opposingthe MEA while the otherBN component parties arekeeping mum.
You see, even in Umno thereis disconnect between thethinking of the leaders and thegrassroots.I will be meeting divisionleaders to explain this. Iwas portrayed negatively by
They weredemonising us, saying that weare traitors to the Malays.That’s interesting. “I am atraitor to the Malays”. I havenot taken one share, no taxipermit, no contract in thename of bumiputra and allthose so-called champions of Malays have taken hundreds of taxi permits, APs and contractsby the hundreds of millions of ringgit.So I said don’t enter into this(argument) otherwise I willsmash them hard. Don’t usethe racial card. If you say youare concerned about the NEP,it’s okay we can argue, wecan discuss this but don’t start condemning us. I’ve appealedto them to stop this.Reviewing the NEP is not just (DAP secretary-generaland Penang Chief Minister)Lim Guan Eng’s view; of course in my mind we shouldcraft the words properly.Coming from a Chinesethey would immediately playthe racial card.It is unfair to Guan Eng,although I would have advisedhim not to touch on the NEP,but it was unfair to himbecause his words were takenout of context. He did say it wasfor the poor of all races.
Nades: Closer to Selangor,what changes can we expectfrom the new government?Anwar:
Firstly, it’s governance.There was so much of wastage,corruption, leakages andalienation of land. According tothe reports I have, hundreds of millions of ringgit are literallydown the drain.But we have to be careful.We cannot create theimpression that we are goingto dismantle everything,because we will lose investorconﬁdence. People want
We haveChinesevoting for PAS,Malays votingfor DAP. Thepeople havespoken. Theysaid look, wewant a cohe-sive Opposi-tion, so today,so-calledcontentiousissues of thepast, like theIslamic Stateand Hududhave beenresolved.”