17 April 2012

Understanding Anwar Ibrahim...

How does a Muslim village boy who faithfully attends Quran classes and goes home to the works of Lao Tzu and Confucius, grow up to view the world — and his country? 

The scope of Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s worldview is matched by the breadth of his political ambitions. Having risen from the ashes, the leader of Malaysia’s opposition is raring to prove his mettle at the upcoming elections. 

Asia360 News editor-in-chief Goh Chien Yen caught up with Anwar Ibrahim in an exclusive interview at the Houses of Parliament, to discuss how exactly the firebrand politician plans to do that.

Asia360 News(Q): There is a lot of talk about the general elections being round the corner. Some predict that they could be held as early as June this year. When do you think it will be?

Anwar Ibrahim(AI): I don’t know. I’m not particularly good at speculating. But the incessant attacks in the UMNO media on the opposition and their rosy coverage of [Malaysian Prime Minister] Najib’s movements, which you see virtually every day, is a sure sign of the imminent elections.

Q: Is the timing good for UMNO to call for an election soon?

AI: I don’t think the timing is actually good for UMNO. You see, they have downplayed UMNO as a party. They are projecting Najib, to show that he’s trying to do his level best. Relying solely on him, however, is to acknowledge the fact that there are strong sentiments against UMNO and the Barisan Nasional coalition. The other component parties that used to play a major role  — MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) and the MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) particularly — are completely sidelined. I don’t believe they’re that confident.

Q: And the timing is good for the opposition, for Pakatan Rakyat? What’s your plan for the upcoming election in order to boost your chances of getting into the government?

AI: Well, we’re working very hard under the circumstances. We have at least been able to present ourselves as a formidable force, a team, and I think that has helped. Unlike Najib, they’re projecting him, but we always appear — the three party leaders [of the opposition coalition] — together. Then, there’s a clear common platform from Buku Jingga, the Orange Book, and on some issues we presented at the recent Pakatan Rakyat Convention. The good thing is that we’ve been working very hard on those issues. We presented the case not only as an alternative government, but with clear policies laid out.

Q:  So what are some of these clear policies from an economic standpoint? The Malaysian economy seems to be doing quite well, registering about 5% growth for 2011 despite the global slowdown. What can you do differently or do better on the economic front?

AI: We are of course for market economics and market reforms, but to us, governance is central. Price hikes here are mainly due to monopoly. Rice and sugar are the monopoly of a few select companies controlled by family members of cronies. We believe that if things are done in a transparent manner and proper procurement policies, tender process, then we can minimally reduce some of these problems.

And this figure, the 5% growth, does not really resonate with the masses. Unlike our neighbouring countries, we’re a net exporter of petroleum; the revenue rests comfortably with this huge income resource.

I don’t think we have much of an issue with infrastructure, or economic growth. People tend to compare us with mostly developing economies. But I would always say that we should be compared with Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, and not Myanmar and Bangladesh.  But what is more important in terms of economic policies is that we have the capacity to move forward at a faster pace and to improve, radically shift and substantially improve the quality of education.

Q: So these are what you see as the immediate challenges if you were to get into power. What would your priorities be in your first 100 days in office?

AI: We need to make sure and be clear that it is not a race-based politics, number one. Number two, the issue of governance. If an observer looks at the growth figures, they know what is lost to corruption.

Q:  If the opposition comes into power, Malaysia will be faced with an unprecedented situation of UMNO not being in government. How would others such as the judiciary, military and the monarchy react to this new political state of affairs?  

AI: This issue is probably relevant much earlier. In 1969, it was a race question. The opposition was seen to be an attack on the Malays. It is not necessarily right; I’m talking about perceptions here. By 2008, we [the opposition] controlled five states — this is not a concern anymore. We are talking about an UMNO-dominated government versus the opposition, which is also Malay-led, so you can’t use this race card. Also now that we have been in government at the state level for some years, our interactions with the military, the police, has been deeper, and also with the sultans.

Q:  So you think Malaysia is ready to move further away from race-based politics that have dominated the political scene for so long?

AI: If you look at the 2000 elections, it’s clearly a departure. It’s been quite clear since 2007. Some critics painted the picture that that if we do take over, it will be like a stooge to the Chinese. It has been used by Mahathir [the former prime minister] against me and it was used by Najib against me. He had publicly said that I will be a stooge of the Chinese, particularly the DAP (Democratic Action Party). My style has never been to be apologetic. Why can’t I be used by the Chinese and the Malays and the Indians, for the good of this country? Instead of just denying, “No, I will not.”  Although this has been a major campaign in rural areas about the insecurity of the Malays, I think it’s over. People finally want to know about the future, their welfare. You go to the Penang Malays, it’s not whether a Chinese is chief minister, it is about their housing, about access to credit, which are their concerns. So we’ll have to address these issues.

Q: What are the challenges for Malaysia as it modernises while remaining faithful to its religious and cultural heritage? Do you see a balance that could be struck or will it always be a source of tension?

AI: We have been able to navigate this successfully, maintaining our posture as a tolerant, moderate, Muslim society. The so-called contentious religious issues were not raised by religious scholars but were purely a political ploy. After all, this race card, religion card are all inculcating a climate of fear. What they want to hear is what you have to offer in terms of concrete policies. If and when we do take over, then the constitutional guarantees and framework will be made on the issues of language and religion, which I think is clearly acceptable to Muslims and non-Muslims in this country. But, having said that, I wouldn’t want to discredit the fact that it would still continue. Look at the UMNO media; it’s a daily dosage of Christians versus Malays, so they may attempt to send this message through their incessant propaganda efforts to the rural heartlands.

Q: You’ve been scandalised, beaten, stripped of your title and thrown into jail. What keeps you going?

AI: I’m just plain crazy!

Q:  Where do you draw your inspiration?

AI: I’m not crazy; I was just quoting Mandela. After I was released, he invited me, Azizan and the children to visit him. So we went to Johannesburg, because he wasn’t doing too well. He was very apologetic, he said, “Anwar, I’m sorry we’re not able to do much.” I said, “Look, you did your best.”  He had immense influence and he was successful in even getting me out of the country for treatment in Johannesburg. He said: “People like us, people say we’re mad, we’re crazy.” Then I intercepted and said to him, “Mad, for sure we are not, but crazy, yes.” But I don’t know. I’m grateful for my parents, they were quite idealistic, my late mum and my father.
Others have asked me how I see Mahathir now, and I spent the first 20 minutes talking about the nice time I had with him. They said, “No, please be serious.” I said, “I am!” That’s a wonderful thing to have. Of course I get angry, I counter his arguments, rebut very strongly, in some ways despise his hypocrisy, the gross injustice, but I wouldn’t deny the positive contributions he made. But the destruction of the institutions of government, that’s unforgivable. Personally, I’m okay, I moved on, but the judiciary, media, the police force, parliament, were all relegated to becoming inconsequential.

Q: Speaking of your relationship with Mahathir, do you have any regrets in the sense that perhaps things could have been done differently? After all, you were the heir-apparent. You were the deputy prime minister, slated to become the next leader.

AI: Oh, I thought about that a lot. You have to remember, I was in prison, so what do you do? Meditate, read and think. And sing, I sing quite a bit too. You do, you reflect, but then it was mutual, he was kind to me and I was exceedingly kind and loyal to him. It was a very difficult period but I don’t think I had much option towards the end. In fact, I’ve always said to my more critical friends that I have absolved myself. After all, we were part of the government. Some of the decisions were bitter, but we needed to draw the line. Things like bailouts, things like the corruption reports against ministers, already on your table, and for you to say “not to do anything”… you have to bring it up! But people say you could have compromised, some friends did say that. But then you would have transgressed the boundary. If or when you do take over, how do you then rationalise with the public what you’ve done? If it’s done by the prime minister, well there’s not much I can do. But if it is condoned by you, you have a problem. So, do I regret it? No. Was it difficult? Yes. Do I think I had other options? No, except to resign early, to die a fighter.

Q:  You’re also a man of ideas. It was about 17 years ago when you wrote the book “Asian Renaissance”. A lot has happened since. Asia is on the rise. Do you think what you described as renaissance is happening now? And where do you see Malaysia in this emerging Asia?

AI: That book became quite contentious because people close to Mahathir thought we were clearly parting ways. Secondly, the central idea of economics empowerment is critical, but not everything, that’s why I talked about renaissance, cultural empowerment, I talked about freedom, and justice. And I think there was a flaw in the thinking at that time of these economic gurus: prescriptions by the World Bank, the IMF about the East Asian economic miracle, and so forth. They didn’t talk about disparity, the marginalised, the poor, whether the judiciary is independent or not, or if the media’s free. To them ‘the miracle’ was in terms of a limited notion of economics and power. I hold very dearly the thesis I presented in that book. That’s why I used the term ‘renaissance’.

Q: Do you think this is happening now? There have been some changes. Indonesia has changed and is now a proud democracy. Malaysia has made progress too, slightly more liberal and democratic these days.

AI:  I don’t think they’re that liberal — they are forced to be. Look at the parliament proceedings today — a mockery, a joke. But it’s a challenge. Once you are transformed into a relatively vibrant democracy, then you actually allow for space. And that latitude is essential for the mushrooming of ideas. That, to me, is very critical when you talk in terms of economics or cultural empowerment.

That is happening more successfully in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand because they are more democratic. Although I wouldn’t want to deny the fact that Indonesia, too, is facing a major problem due to endemic corruption and marginalisation. If the issue of governance is not resolved, people have this suspicion, then whatever policies, however rational or good, will always be suspect. Is it to enrich your cronies or is it really something really essential to the masses?  Trust is important.

Q:  What would you consider your greatest political achievement to date?

AI:  I’ve not achieved much. For now, I’m cementing the three parties together. Fortunately, the leaders of the three parties are like-minded and willing to collaborate for a common agenda. But there is still a long way to go. So we shall see. People say that success means you assume office. It’s not true. Success is when you’re able to deliver. It’s not when you attain the position. That’s I think the wisdom of having been there and being downtrodden. And I think that keeps your sanity and humility. I think that’s important. People think being prime minister is the end, but I don’t think so. I think you should be evaluated and judged. And when you’re able to honour your commitments after you assume office, and remain true to your ideas, that, to me, is a far greater challenge than articulating this ideal in the absence of authority or power. When you’re there, you deal with the realpolitik, with the power play, with the big forces, with the tycoons. If they give you a 10 million dollar ring, what do you do?

Q: There’s a strong moral conviction behind your political action. What keeps you true? What keeps you walking the straight and narrow and not, like you said, being wavered by the 10 million dollar ring or turning your eye away from what you think is not right?

AI:  I’m a man of faith; I’m a practicing Muslim. At the same time, I grew up well thanks to my parents. My mother is not English-educated but she’s an avid reader. She virtually read all novels in Malay or in Bahasa Indonesia in those days, the entire collection of Balai Pustaka books. And my dad, we always had these small compendiums of books, from Gandhi to Lao Tzu to Confucius, and it’s interesting. For a Muslim family in a village, with a small library at home, we have that. So you familiarise yourself. I go to Quran class, and following the Nabi (prophet), as an intellectual, you don’t view religion purely from a dogmatic sense but you engage.

Roger Garaudy was a great philosopher, who started off being a Christian in France, then later on became a Muslim. It’s very interesting what he said, unlike a new convert. He said, “I’m blessed, I grew up a Christian, and that’s where I learnt compassion and tolerance. Then I became a Communist, and I had strong empathy and love for the poor and downtrodden. Then I became a Muslim and then I became more universal.” So just because he is a Muslim, the past is no longer relevant? No, the past is what is him.

Exactly what Amartya Sen had said. In his book “Identity and Violence”, he said, “I’m an Indian, I memorised Sanskrit at the age of nine and I think it was a great thing, I’m a Hindu and I think we have a great civilisation, but because I’m in India, I think that Muslim moguls have done wonderfully well. But later I became a professor in Cambridge, in Harvard. I think it’s a great institution and I love being here in America and despite the fact that I grew up in Santiniketan, I am a great admirer of Shakespeare. So who am I?” And that is beautiful. I use that a lot. And when you read it and understand it and you see these people talking about Malay supremacy, oh my god, they know nothing.- CY & FE - asia360news.com

Jika Melayu rajin berfikir sejenak...

Asalkan orang Melayu rajin berfikir sejenak, dakyah Umno terdesak di saat nyawa-nyawa ikan bahawa PAS sebagai punca perpecahan Melayu, manakala nasib orang Melayu yang lemah dan semakin jatuh berpunca dari DAP akan terbongkar dengan senang.

Dalam satu kenyataan kepada Harakahdaily, Ketua Penerangan PAS Pusat Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (gambar)  menyifatkan malang dan paling menyedihkan bagi golongan Melayu Islam di Malaysia bilamana perpaduan Melayu itu dilihat sekiranya orang Melayu menyokong Umno yang bersifat asabiah, manakala golongan yang menyokong PAS atau PKR dianggap golongan yang memecah-belah masyarakat Melayu.

Keadaan ini, hujah Tuan Ibrahim telah diasak dalam pemikiran rakyat, sehingga ianya diterima oleh sebahagian orang Melayu.

“Itu adalah hakikat yang paling menyedihkan dalam kesan terus politik asabiah Umno terhadap kaum yang mereka ingin bela.

“Pemikiran tertutup inilah sebenarnya yang membawa perpecahan di kalangan orang Melayu. Sehingga Melayu menjadi lemah, lebih-lebih lagi malas dan hilang daya saing kerana sentiasa bergelumang dalm salah guna kuasa, masalah moral dan rasuah sebagai jalan keluar,” tegas Tuan Ibrahim.

Sedangkan, kata Pesuruhjaya PAS Pahang itu, semua pimpinan di semua peringkat adalah orang Melayu - dari Raja-raja, Perdana Menteri, Timbalan menteri, Menteri Besar, Exco-exco, pegawai daerah, penghulu, ketua kampung dan JKK.

Apabila Melayu lemah, kata beliau, akan muncullah pimpinan Umno bangkit menyalahkan Cina (DAP) sedangkan berpuluh tahun orang Melayulah mendominasi pimpinan negara.

“Inilah sikap dan politik durjana Umno yang bilamana gagal mengurus tadbir negara dengan baik , maka diletakkan kesalahan kepada PAS sebagai punca perpecahan Melayu, manakala nasib orang melayu yang lemah dan semakin jatuh berpunca dari DAP.

"Lebih menyayatkan rakyat Malaysia, pembohongan ini diterima oleh sebahagian masyarakat Melayu kerana perkara ini diulang-ulang oleh Umno di media perdana seolah-olah ia benar, walhal asalkan seseorang itu rajin berfikir sejenak, pembohongan ini mudah dikesan dan disedari,” tegas beliau.

Melayu tidak berpecah

Tuan Ibrahim turut menyangkal dakwaan Umno yang menggambarkan kewujudan parti politik menjadi punca perpecahan orang Melayu.

“Kalau kewujudan parti politik menjadi punca perpecahan, kenapa kita menerima sistem demokrasi yang mengizinkan wujudnya pelbaga parti politik, dan kenapa kerajaan meluluskan pendaftaran pelbagai parti politik khusnya parti berteraskan perkaumanan - kerana dengan meluluskan pendaftaran parti tersebut, kita mengizinkan rakyat Malaysia berpecah,” selar beliau.

Hakikatnya, terang Tuan Ibrahim, masyarakat Melayu tidak berpecah, mereka hanya berbeza pandangan dan sokongan kepada parti parti politik yang sah dari sudut perlembagaan.

“Bilamana kita menerima sistem demokrasi bermakna kita mesti bersedia untuk menerima perbezaan pandangan, sokongan dan kelompok yang berbeza.  Andainya ini diterjemahkan sebagai perpecahan, maka tentulah golongan yang menganggap demikian tidak memahami erti sistem demokrasi. Bahkan dalam satu parti, masih wujud kelompok- kelompok yang berbeza,” tambah beliau.

Tuan Ibrahim berkata rakyat mesti mesti bersikap terbuka dalam menilai sesuatu keadaan, kerana kalau perbezaan pandangan dan sokongan dianggap perpecahan, maka tindakan kerajaan meluluskan pendaftaran parti bersifat perkauman seperti Umno yang memperjuangkan Melayu, MIC yang memperjuangkan nasib kaum India, MCA yang memperjuangkan nasib kaum Cina mesti diharamkan.

“Kerana inilah punca utama wujudnya masalah besar perpaduan nasional dalam negara kita,” kata beliau.

Bagi PAS, katanya, parti menilai perbezaan bukanlah perpecahan, sebaliknya ia adalah perkara normal dalam mana-mana negara atau kelompok masyarakat sekalipun.

“Kerana itu, al Quran menjelaskan: "Dan (Dia lah) yang menyatu-padukan di antara hati mereka (yang beriman itu). Kalaulah engkau belanjakan segala (harta benda) yang ada di bumi, nescaya engkau tidak dapat juga menyatu-padukan di antara hati mereka, akan tetapi Allah telah menyatu-padukan di antara (hati) mereka. –Al-Anfaal:63,” hujah Tuan Ibrahim.

Dalil tersebut, terang beliau menunjukkan bahawa penyatuan mesti berdasarkan nilai universal yang bukan bersifat bangsa, warna kulit, dan keturunan.

“Kerana ini bukan pilihan manusia. Tidak mungkin kita boleh menukarkan bangsa  Melayu  untuk menjadi Cina, India untuk ditular menjadi Jawa dan seterusnya. Yang boleh ditukar ialah sesuatu yang dalam pilihan manusia seperti agama (aqidah) kerana manusia boleh memilihnya.

Kerana itu, Islam tidak meletakkan soal agama sebagai unsur paksaan, kerana ia dibina di atas keyakinan seseorang,” kata beliau.

Namun, tegasnya, Islam menyarankan agar dakwah dilaksanakan di kalangan masyarakat agar Islam diketahui  dan difahami dengan sebenarnya. Kerana seandainya seseorang memahami dengan sebenarnya ajaran Islam yang bersifat universal ini, tentu ia akan menerima Islam sebagai agama pilihan.

“Bagi golongan yang tidak menerima bukanlah musuh, kerana yang dianggap musuh adalah yang menentang atau bersikap memusihi Islam. Ini adalah perkara normal  di mana-mana sistem pun. Golongan komunis tidak akan menerima kaum kapitalis dalam pentadbirannya,” jelas Tuan Ibrahim. - harakahdaily



Anonymous said...

Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was
super long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog.
I too am an aspiring blog writer but I'm still new to everything. Do you have any tips for inexperienced blog writers? I'd definitely appreciate it.

Feel free to visit my blog post: shopping
Also visit my blog : wireless

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Sorry to trouble you but I ran across
your blog site and discovered you happen to be using the exact same template as me.
The only problem is on my website, I'm battling to get the layout looking like yours. Would you mind emailing me at: jamewhitman@inbox.com so I can get this figured out. By the way I have bookmarked your web-site: http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=1624275106440922314&postID=4657646539328692319 and will certainly be visiting frequently. Many thanks!

Here is my homepage; paving
My web blog search

Anonymous said...

Woah! I'm really loving the template/theme of this site. It's
simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's hard to get that "perfect balance" between usability and visual appeal. I must say you have done a superb job with this. Additionally, the blog loads extremely quick for me on Safari. Exceptional Blog!

Also visit my page: motor

Anonymous said...

Hey there! I know this is sort of off-topic but I needed to
ask. Does building a well-established blog such as yours require
a lot of work? I am completely new to writing a blog but I
do write in my diary on a daily basis. I'd like to start a blog so I can easily share my experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

Also visit my web site: concrete concrete

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Idaho! I'm bored to death at work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break. I love the information you provide here and can't wait to take a look when I get home.
I'm surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. I'm not even
using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, amazing blog!

my homepage; driveway series

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to find out what blog system you are working with? I'm experiencing some minor
security issues with my latest blog and I'd like to find something more safe. Do you have any solutions?

Also visit my web-site ... tree stump

Anonymous said...

Incredible! I'm truly enjoying the layout of your blog. Are you using a custom made theme or is this freely available to all users? If you don't want to say the name of it out in the general public, please make sure to e-mail me at: opal-donahue@gmail.

com. I'd really like to get my hands on this theme! Thank you.

my blog post ... tools

Anonymous said...

I have loaded your site in 3 completely different internet browsers
and I must say this website loads a lot quicker
then most. Would you mind emailing me the name of your hosting company?
My personal e-mail is: donna_flora@gmail.
com. I'll even sign up through your affiliate link if you would like. Cheers

Check out my web blog: way

Anonymous said...

I know this if off topic but I'm looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I'm assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
I'm not very web savvy so I'm not 100% certain. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Kudos

Feel free to visit my web page vaga

Anonymous said...

Hey there your internet site url: http://www.
blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=1624275106440922314&postID=4657646539328692319 appears to be redirecting to
a completely different internet site when I click the home-page button.

You may want to have this checked.

My weblog ... folije

Anonymous said...

I love what you guys tend to be up too. This kind of clever work and reporting!
Keep up the awesome works guys I've incorporated you guys to blogroll.

Also visit my web site :: pc