Saturday, November 1, 2014

If Anwar goes back to jail, Azmin and co. can take over, says Economist

Published: 1 November 2014
Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali (right) with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at Anwar’s Sodomy II trial in Putrajaya. Should Anwar’s jail sentence be upheld, Azmin is touted as among those who can take over the PKR leadership. – The Malaysian Insider pic, November 1, 2014.

Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali (right) with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at Anwar’s Sodomy II trial in Putrajaya. Should Anwar’s jail sentence be upheld, Azmin is touted as among those who can take over the PKR leadership. – The Malaysian Insider pic, November 1, 2014.
If Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim goes back to jail after the Sodomy II appeal next week, the sentence will not only turn the 67-year-old into a martyr but also give other younger PKR leaders a chance to shine, The Economist said today.
In an editorial today, the newspaper said the ruling Barisan Nasional had thwarted Anwar’s political ambitions for 16 years – since his fallout with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1998 – and this week’s trial at the Federal Court “looks like the end of the road” for Anwar.
But the silver lining, said the paper, was the chance for younger leaders in PKR, such as Azmin Ali, Rafizi Ramli and Nurul Izzah Anwar, to take over the leadership reins and prove their mettle.
Of the trio, Selangor Menteri Besar and PKR deputy president Azmin is seen as the most promising.
“He cut his teeth as Anwar’s private secretary during his years in government and has proven a loyal deputy. But the capable 50-year-old can readily move out from his mentor’s shadow,” the paper said.
Azmin not only had greater experience than Nurul Izzah (Anwar’s daughter and PKR vice-president) and Rafizi (PKR strategy director), he was also the winner of the “Kajang move” debacle and ended with the plum post of menteri besar. (Rafizi was the architect of the “Kajang move”.)
If Azmin can prove to the electorate that he can govern Selangor competently, then he might achieve what his mentor could not: taking over the country as prime minister.
The newspaper said even if Anwar’s appeal was successful, he was “no longer quite as crucial to the opposition (Pakatan Rakyat) as he once was”. Anwar, it noted, had twice failed to lead PR to outright victory in the 2008 and 2013 general elections.
But Anwar remains a charismatic figure and can still raise a crowd as he did on Monday at Universiti Malaya. Anwar was invited to the “40 years: from UM to prison” event which the university administration had declared illegal.
Despite that and a campus-wide shutdown, 2,000 people turned up to hear Anwar talk. UM student leader Fahmi Zainol is now facing disciplinary action for going ahead with the rally.
The Sodomy II trial comes at a politically sensitive time in Malaysia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has often touted his moderation credentials and is still basking in Malaysia’s win of a United Nations Security Council seat, must now deal with plunging approval ratings.
The dip in Najib’s popularity has been attributed to the reduction in fuel subsidy and negative sentiments among voters over various issues, including increasing cost of living, the general condition of the economy, and racial and religious tensions.
The Najib administration is also accused of using the colonial-era Sedition Act to clamp down on dissent. Opposition politicians, academics and activists are among those charged with sedition or under investigation.
Najib’s party, Umno, holds its general assembly at the end of this month. Najib is facing pressure from conservatives aligned with Dr Mahathir who might engineer his removal as party president.
To ward them off, Najib must show that he is not a weak leader and manage the fallout from the Anwar trial.
Last night, Najib who is also BN chairman, urged BN component parties to strengthen their respective positions, claiming that PR was in more turmoil than BN.
"We need to look internally, strengthen each party and show the commitment to ensure BN's continued success," he said.
“We can improve on our cooperation – we look at the opposition and they are more in turmoil than BN.”
The Selangor menteri besar saga which dragged on for months saw the PR parties of PKR, DAP and PAS clashing over the matter and affected ties among the three partners.
The Anwar Sodomy II trial has seen some ties being repaired among the PR parties with PAS’s Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad among those who turned up at the Putrajaya court. – November 1, 2014.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/if-anwar-goes-back-to-jail-azmin-and-co.-can-take-over-says-economist#sthash.rY70ScP4.I8JWFt6i.dpuf

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