Friday, March 07, 2014

Guilty!

Being acquitted in court doesn't guarantee your freedom. This is what Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) found to his chagrin today when the Appeal Court comprising 3 learned judges overturned the verdict of the High Court judge who found him innocent of sodomy charge brought against him by his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

The timing of the trial and the swift judgment smack of interference by the Barisan government to stop DSAI from contesting in the upcoming Kajang by-election on March 23. The unfolding events confirm what was stated by Rafizi Ramli, the strategy director of Keadilan, the party headed by Anwar, that he was brought into the Selangor state government to defend it from falling to UMNO which lost control of the state in 2008 to Pakatan and is seen to do everything possible to wrestle back the state. Anwar as a member of parliament and Opposition Leader has no power at the state level. His presence is critical to stop the raid by UMNO. Now that Anwar cannot stand in the Kajang by-election how is Pakatan's plan going to change? One possibility is stated here, that Rafizi himself will be offered to contest.

With just over 2 weeks to the by-election and a week plus to nomination, Pakatan will be scrambling to decide on its candidate agreeable to all 3 coalition partners. Rafizi appear to be popular, capable and available and agreeable to the Kajang voters to fight to retain the seat won in 2013 by another Keadilan candidate Lee Chin Cheh who resigned for no other reason than to make way for Anwar to step into the state government. This was admitted by Rafizi who claimed he masterminded this scheme. The question is did he considered further the possibility of what happened today, and if so, was he prepared to lead the offensive against UMNO in Selangor without Anwar?

The hype talk of Anwar stepping into the role of Menteri Besar or Chief Minister of Selangor now no longer arise, and incumbent Khalid Ibrahim can breathe easy. But as an inexperienced politician, being a corporate person who excelled in managing plantation and investment agency of the federal government in a civil servant role, he found himself under severe attack from the UMNO party out to discredit him and create confusion and swing support back to them. Whether he remains as MB or gets replaced is questionable but the key matter now is to successfully defend Kajang and win by a larger majority if possible. The victory will drive home the message to UMNO and Barisan that destroying Anwar will not be the end of Pakatan. Rather it will help raise up new leaders from within to carry on the struggle to redeem our nation from corrupt leaders.

In hindsight it would appear that UMNO has misjudged today's verdict in its favor. It has in actual fact infuriated many parties, including observers like Human Rights Watch and foreign governments wary and worried of the deteriorating track records of the Barisan government led by Najib Razak. It would also infuriate Pakatan supporters and drive a wedge into those who think the government is incapable of facing competition or is afraid of Anwar and that getting rid of him will take away their nightmares.

Ultimately the Kajang voters in particular and Malaysian voters in general must agree on this. Would they trust their government under the hands of Pakatan which has delivered sterling performance in Selangor and Penang, or of Barisan which over 56 years of rule have failed to bring the country to a developed state. The Kajang Move will go into our history book as a watershed event that separates those who want Malaysia governed competently from those who cannot do without surviving on corruption and handouts.


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