What started as a media manufactured rift in Malaysia’s Islamic Party (PAS) soon became real after its top leader openly condemned a section of the leadership who has been in talks with the ruling UMNO.
The creases from his predecessor’s seat had hardly settled when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced on October 9 that he would step down as prime minister and president of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in March 2009.
As the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) growls like a wounded tiger about its setbacks since the general elections in March, former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim is almost like a vulture, waiting his chance to pound at the best opportunity he has had in more than a decade.
As Crescent went to press, Malaysians were still awaiting announcement of the date of the country’s general elections, which had been widely expected to take place before the end of the year. They have been delayed because of a number of man-made and natural events that have shaken the confidence of the government of prime minister Abdullah Badawi.
Just when prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was basking in glory after the usual praises poured on him at the end of the ruling UMNO's general assembly, he was jolted by a mammoth opposition-backed rally in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on November 10. That tens of thousands of protesters heeded the silent invitation to join the rally calling for major reforms in the way elections are conducted, after countless threats and warnings from the prime minister and police chiefs, sends a signal that the people's resentment of the UMNO is even more than it was thought to be.
Few countries pay as much attention to their deputy prime ministers as Malaysians do. The number two spot in the government is often fought for with a fervour stronger than for the PM’s post. When not being contested, the person occupying it had better get every part of his act clean, at least in public. The slightest involvement in any controversy will be the road to resignation, or, in the case of Anwar Ibrahim, unceremonious dismissal and arrest.
Barely a month after he announced his intention of returning to the political stage, Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister, is back in limelight. Since being released from jail in late 2004, he had been travelling around the world delivering speeches to academic institutions and thinktanks. Now he has promised to give the Malaysian opposition a shot in the arm.