Laman Webantu   KM2A1: 4799 File Size: 7.6 Kb *

Guardian: From Prisoner to Prime Minister?
By John Aglionby

22/6/2001 6:25 pm Fri

[Mahathir menyelar reformis sebagai pengganas sedangkan beliaulah sendiri pengganas yang tidak berperi kemanusiaan sehingga menangkap orang tanpa bukti dan perbicaraan. Itu belum dikira lagi kes lebam dan layanan istimewa buat Rahim Nor yang tidak kelihatan pun di penjara Kajang (melainkan di pintu sahaja?).

Mahathir juga mengatakan demo jalanan menggugat aktiviti harian dan peniaga kecilan. Tetapi mengapa lebih banyak kedai yang terbuka dari yang tertutup bila demo bermula? Tidak ada pun kerosakkan terhadap kedai atau ancaman kepada peniaga melainkan oleh pasukan DBKL yang diterajui oleh pemimpin Umno. Sebenarnya ada satu kisah ngeri konfrontasi peniaga melayu dan DBKL di Chow Kit satu ketika dulu yang tidak dilapurkan oleh akhbar.

Peniaga kecil, kalau tergugat pun oleh demo jalanan cuma sehari dua sahaja. Tetapi Mahathir telah merusakkan hidup dan kesihatan Anwar dan semua tahanan ISA termasuk seorang suami dan ayah bernama Sobri dari isteri yang mengandung dan anak-anak kecilnya. Bukan itu sahaja - polisi ekonomi Mahathir telah menyebabkan ramai kehilangan kerja di kilang dan pelabur saham merana. Tragedi Kg Medan itu sudah cukup menjadi tauladan masalah sosio ekonomi akibat kepincangan kepimpinannya. Derita dan malang yang menimpa rakyat (seperti di Kg Medan dan Kg ISA) itu bukan sehari dua, tetapi akan terus menghantui hidup mereka sampai bila-bila. Ini semua berlaku di zaman Mahathir belaka. - Editor] journalist/story/0,7792,510510,00.html

From prisoner to prime minister?

Malaysia's former deputy prime minister may be in prison, but he should not be consigned to the political dustbin just yet, writes John Aglionby

Thursday June 21, 2001

Anyone who thought Malaysia's jailed former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, had been consigned to the history books only needed to hear the speech by the prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, to his party's annual congress this morning to appreciate how significant a political player he is, even behind bars.

Although he did not mention by name the man once trumpeted as his anointed heir and tried to disguise his vitriol as a swipe at Indonesia, Mahathir could not have been clearer if he had spelt Anwar's name out on the large screen behind him.

The 75-year-old autocrat spent the first section of his 90-minute oration lambasting "reformasi", the reform movement established following Anwar's dismissal in September 1998, subsequent humiliation and extremely dubious conviction for corruption and s###my.

"Why do we need reform in our democratic system of administration?" he asked. "Why do we need street demonstrations which only serve to cause traders to lose, in particular small-business people whose daily survival depends on their daily income?"

Mahathir, who celebrates 20 years in office next month, seemed to have forgotten that these same traders are suffering enormously as a result of his own policies as Malaysia's growth rate is expected to slump from more than 8% last year to nearer 2% this year.

He described the masses who backed Anwar as "idiots" who have been duped. "While the little people gained nothing, those who made use of them gained a lot by faking sympathy towards their idol," he said. "Until when are they going to be idiots?"

And if anyone had forgotten what he did to Anwar and, earlier this year, to 10 reformasi activists, Mahathir warned, in English for emphasis: "Those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword."

The 10 Anwar supporters, who were responsible for mobilising thousands of people across the country in the last two years, were detained without charge in solitary confinement for up to 60 days in an unknown location earlier this year, with no access to lawyers and no family visits for the first month. Six have had their detention extend indefinitely, albeit in a regular detention centre.

Analysts believe the amount of time Mahathir spent attacking Anwar highlights how worried the ageing leader is. "He would not have spent 30 minutes attacking Anwar if he was not a force to be reckoned with," said Terence Gomez of the University of Malaya.

Anwar, who marked his 1,000th day of incarceration on Saturday, is confined to a wheelchair and wears neck and back braces after suffering a slipped disc in - depending on who you ask - either a beating by prison guards and police officers or an innocent fall while playing football.

Mahathir is offering Anwar surgery in Malaysia. But this will involve a general anaesthetic and, experts say, has a 20% chance of leaving him paralysed. Anwar wants to be treated using highly sophisticated endoscopic surgery under local anaesthetic in Germany that has a less than 5% chance of going wrong.

"He's really afraid of what might happen here," said Chandra Muzaffar, the deputy president of Keadilan, the party founded by Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, to formalise the struggle against Mahathir. "You can't say his fear is unjustified after what he has gone through."

On Tuesday, Malaysia's prisons chief formally rejected Anwar's demand to be allowed to go overseas for treatment. Not only was Anwar beaten up on several occasions he was almost poisoned. After falling very sick, a blood sample was smuggled out and found to contain dangerously high levels of arsenic.

Despite his physical ailments, he is "otherwise all right," according to Wan Azizah. "He's not going to give up fighting for what he knows to be right." Although they only meet once a fortnight, the two exchange messages every few days discussing how Keadilan should develop in both the short and long-term.

What the last three years have shown is that the wave of sympathy generated by Mahathir's treatment of Anwar was not a flash in the pan. It has developed into a permanent, and still growing, political movement.

"Anwar was one of the few ruling party leaders who had built up his own political base from different groups and sections in society," explained Sivarasa Rasiah, one of Anwar's lawyers. "That's where Mahathir miscalculated."

Anwar's continued pulling power as an icon of the reformasi movement is most clearly demonstrated by the four major opposition political parties agreeing that he would still be their first choice as prime minister if they were to unseat Mahathir. "There's no one else who has the same appeal as he does," said Lim Kit Siang, the chairman of the Democratic Action party.

So while Mahathir might demonise Anwar in a mural at his party headquarters by showing him sneakily dipping his hand into a box marked "IMF first aid kit" while he fights the evil forces of western capitalism by rejecting International Monetary Fund assistance, the boot might well end up being on the other foot.

"It might not happen at the next general election [due in 2004] but it would be a brave man who says Anwar Ibrahim will never be prime minister," Lim Kit said.