Saturday, January 19, 2013
Anwar: Exorcising The Ghost of His Umno Past
A Kadir Jasin
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SHOULD we be curious that Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s deputy president, Mohd Azmin Ali, is so worried about the so-called attempts to implicate his boss, (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim, in the Sabah immigrant issue or is there something more than meets the eye?
After all, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) had just started its work.
Or is there something intimate that he knows about Anwar’s alleged involvement in the Sabah’s immigrant issue that many young Malaysians are not aware of?
Older Malaysians who know Anwar from his student days may be less surprised about his many political and social involvements and the evolution that he went through before, during and after his Umno days.
Azmin had alleged that the PKR had received information about a plot to implicate Anwar in the on-going inquiry.
“All the problems in this country is burdened on the de-facto leader and we also expect (this).”
I would not dare advise Anwar and Azmin, although I knew both of them well during the years that they were the power duo in the Barisan Nasional administration, to acknowledge that they were responsible for some of the key decisions that took place during that period or, at the very least, admit that they were fait accompli.
I Know They know What I Know
I was there for all of the 16 years that Anwar was the crown prince of Umno and Azmin, as his principle private secretary, was the envy of many ambitious civil servants and political operators. The braver ones called him names and the gung-ho ones mishandled him. I salute him for his undying loyalty to his boss.
In the case of Sabah politics, in which the immigrants play a major socio-economic and political role, Anwar was for many years its key handler. Because he was one of the most trusted and ambitious allies of then Prime Minister, (Tun) Dr Mahathir ‘the Wizard’ Mohamad , he got to handle not only Sabah politics but also money that went with it – government as well as party money.
Being the young leader most closely identified with Dr Mahathir, Anwar was in the thick of all things important and strategic – things that earned him juicy political dividends. Let us not pretend.
Since Anwar continues the dream of becoming Malaysia’s Prime Minister and has the best shot at it in the coming general election, and Azmin surely would not want to be left far behind, perhaps it is time for them to face the ghost of their Umno and BN past. What is so terribly wrong about it?
Anwar would not be where he is today had he remained an Abim leader or opted to join Pas as some of his Abim’s contemporaries did. For good or evil, the 16 years that he was in Umno, he gained premium political branding so much so he is today able to sell it to Pas and the DAP.
Immigrant Issue Is As Old As the Country
Let us be brave and frank. In a way or another, we are all implicated in all issues pertaining to immigration and citizenship. So we should not politicise the work of the RCI for short-term political gains, more so if we are interested to solve the issue once and for all.
I remember discussing the issue of Filipino immigrants in Sabah back in 1981 with then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, (Tun) Musa Hitam, while flying with him in a government jet from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terengganu and back.
Even then, the influx of Muslim Filipinos into Sabah was not a new thing. It started long before that. When North Borneo became Sabah and joined Malaysia in 1963, the Filipinos were already free to come and go. Like Malaya during the British time, this was not an issue. And like the immigrant Chinese and Indians who were given Malayan Citizenship in 1957, many Filipinos settled down and gained citizenship when Sabah became part of Malaysia.
The fact that they are Muslims appears to be an issue with some people. That they are useful to the non-Bumiputera controlled economy has never been an issue. Perhaps Chinese traders in the state should be asked if they want the Filipinos to be stripped of their Malaysian citizenship and booted out.
Let us also not forget about the region’s geo-politics during the time Malaysia was born and the fact that before the arrival of the European colonizers, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Southern Thailand were one common geographical region called Nusantara, also referred to as the Malay World.
People living in this region were free to move from one part to another. There wasn’t the notion of boundaries. It was only when the European powers divided up the region for their selfish interest that boundaries were created.
Even then, immigrants as far away as China and India were free to come and go, although most decided to stay on and were offered citizenship of the new South East Asian nations.
It is also interesting that the issue of the Filipino immigrants in Sabah should reach the crescendo at the time when the Christians are demanding that they be allowed to use the term “Allah” in their Malay language Bible in the Peninsula and also the time when the Malays and Muslims are perceived be divided and weak.
Back to the power duo, it is time for them to stop giving a partisan twist to the Filipino immigrant issue and to other issues like it, and to stare their Umno and government past in the face. They may not be able to exorcise the ghost of their Umno past, but they may at least be able to sleep more peacefully. Wallahualam.
- A KADIR JASIN
- I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).