Thursday, November 13, 2008

Anwar Ibrahim’s obsession with Najib the ‘Dictator’ may be good for the nation

by: Azmi Anshar
DEWAN RAKYAT Nov 12, 2008

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is excruciatingly obsessed with Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the pretender Prime Minister-in-waiting keeping antagonistic tabs on the genuine Prime Minister-designate. After guzzling the Umno divisional election nominations to win the party presidency uncontested, Najib is now forced to endure screaming volleys of epithets, the latest that he will foster a dictatorial regime once he takes office.

Now who would want to accuse Najib of such despicable foreboding even before he had a chance to sniff the real powers of Premiership, if not from Anwar, who lashed out at Najib and complained that if he “comes into the picture, everything will be clamped down.” Addressing the media in Parliament yesterday and in his habitually haranguing tone, Anwar went ballistic after he was told that the Finance Minister will roll out the RM7 billion stimulus package announced in the Dewan Rakyat last week.

The stimulus plan, whether it was not approved in Parliament or not tabled, has been made into a source of discomfort for the Opposition leader, compelling him to even lambast mainstream newspapers for covering-up this little known fact to protect Najib. “This is what we mean by arrogance of power…they control everything, dictate terms and monopolise the news and they can get away literally with murder,” he rattled away his disgust at the perceived administration that will come under Najib.

While Anwar ranted that the stimulus package cannot be considered as “approved policy”, Najib duly won approval from the Speaker to move his package after Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia ruled that it was “not an additional budget to Budget 2009 but a supplementary measure” to tackle the global economic meltdown. An early 2009 start for the stimulus package to move on the ground is projected but Anwar insisted that it was not done according to procedures. “If he says it will be disbursed in January, how do you disburse funds that have not been approved by Parliament? So I do not know from where, maybe from his savings,” Anwar deadpanned.

Anwar’s rebuke comes in the stream of critics refusing to cut any slack for Najib now while he earns breaks in little doses is typical political harassment. But Najib as a dictator? Crackpot or tin-pot? That’ll be a scream. The only elected dictator by popular vote, in Umno and in the general election. Of course, once in power in March, Najib can for laughs emulate a malevolent variety of styles from infamous dictators – Castro, Amin, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pinochet. If he is able to do so in the first place. What about duplicating Kaunda, Piłsudski, Antonescu, Horthy, Torrijos and Atatürk, the Turk who was also democratically elected like Najib? Hugo Chavez has been molested by the Western media as a raving mad dictator. Perhaps his is a more personable character that Najib should imitate?

Maybe Anwar confused Najib for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who during his 22 years in the PM’s office had brooked his fair share of unflattering epithets, chief among them “dictator”, and chief among his detractors was Anwar. After his sacking from Government and during his correction years, Anwar invested time, effort, money and legal fees to unleash one railing rhetoric after another against Dr Mahathir that in some measure, succeeded in blackening the ex-PM’s image but his reputation, especially in Japan and African and Middle East nations remain sterling.

A dictator in the real sense Dr Mahathir was not, at least not in the realm of the abovementioned gallery of villainy, but a benevolent autocrat he certainly was, marshalling and goading the Malaysian masses into great self-confidence and self-pride to take on the world while whipping everyone at home – the rogues, the whiners, the desperados, the beggars, the backstabbers, the recalcitrants, and the ingratiaters – into fighting shape. Without Dr Mahathir’s prying, Malaysian politics would have degenerated into back-alley catfights of political tribalism dominated by ego-driven overlords and self-styled warlords. He still did not full succeed. If because of these aspects that deemed Dr Mahathir as a dictator, he’d probably take it with a wholesome chuckle.

It would seem that the Opposition Leader and MP for Permatang Pauh love playing the hyperbole game, perhaps a one-upmanship competition with Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) who has long perfected the hysterics of such phraseology to such sneering sound bytes. Remember Kit’s extravagant overstatement, “richest unemployed man in the country”?

Not the first time that Najib had to suffer accursed accusations that focal-pointed him under the scorching light of perceived scandals. Now he has to deflect another of Anwar’s fulminating fusillade, only because he refused to give the man the time and day to butt into his laying out of the stimulus package in the House. Is that any way to treat the future leader of Malaysia by calling him names? Of course. It is the Anwar way.

However, lest someone accuses Anwar of disparaging Najib mindlessly, there is method in his madness. The fulgent Anwar, his star bobbing under the rushing air of his blowhard ways, has made it his mission to destabilise a resurgent BN under the soon-to-be Najib administration. Anwar wants Najib’s rule to be entangled in political crises and acrid limbo. That’s the idea in the concerted attacks against Najib because a resurgent BN is very bad news to Anwar’s ambitions to make a dash for a quick power grab.

Anwar’s obsession with demonising Najib is urgent. For starters, it has dawned on some enlightened ones within the Opposition that Anwar can’t wrest the Federal Government in a legitimate battle in the polls. Even the DAP is queasy with Anwar’s insistence that he can form the next Federal Government early next month on the spine of 30-odd BN defectors, starting with the two SAPP crossovers.

If critics had accused the BN of being in denial after the demoralising March general election losses, that BN lost many seats due to voters’ abandonment of BN policies, then the same critics should also tell off Pakatan Rakyat that their haloed political tsunami was not won on the backs of some seminal Opposition manifesto or clever politicking, as Kit loves to parrot, but the disillusionment of legions of Umno members and pro-Umno voters who renounced their party leadership, jumped off the cliff like the mythical lemmings and loathingly gave their votes to the likes of the PKR, DAP and Pas, or whichever party was conveniently available at the poll stations.

This may sound condescending to the Opposition but it could have easily been Pakatan Rempit, no disrespect to these roguish road warriors, and they too would have won the five states (six if you count the parliament seats in Kuala Lumpur) as the Opposition gladly milked the dissatisfaction, resentment and hatred of the Establishment in that moment of balloting anarchy.

However, these lemmings did not swim themselves to death hurtling down the cliff. They were merely in purgatory and could as well throw up in embarrassment if they were labelled as staunch Opposition believers. Reincarnated, the lemmings are now scaling back the cliff and returning to the warm, protective pouch of their party of choice, all because of the willingness of the Establishment that sparked the mass surrenders to agree to a peaceful power transition that hoists Najib up to the highest orbit of the political food chain.

But let’s backtrack to Anwar’s dictatorial doozie: there could be some traction here. It doesn’t seem that bad an idea that Najib assumes a tad of dictatorship in the realm of Dr Mahathir’s autocratic style. Malaysians, whether they like to admit it or not, need this kind of firm father figure discipline, seeing how badly behaved most of us are. We get wrecked into 6,000-odd fatal accidents annually; we refuse to follow traffic rules or switch our cell phones in theatres, or behave decently in Parliament, what with vicious and vulgar name-calling, hoots and jeers being the order of some days.

Bung giving and taking to win votes, favours and clemency is a burgeoning black market business while crime rates, gang violence and disappearing children are getting worrisome all the time. Yes, any dictator, Najib included, who can beat, lash, castigate, chastise, flog, thrash and punish abhorrent criminality appropriated by malfeasant Malaysians is most welcomed. The day Malaysians are not caught committing such transgressions is the day petrol sells for RM1 a litre, public toilets are voluntarily flushed and litter is actually dumped inside the relevant bins.