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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Anwar’s exciting political strategy?


So it’s obvious that PR aims to win federal as well as the states. But the DAP source has this to add: “Anwar will surely know the risk if he leaves Permatang Pauh for a tougher seat. What if PR forms the federal government but Anwar were to lose his seat. Who then shall be PM?” 
WHEN Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he could stand in Perak or Selangor (preferring Perak) instead of defending his Permatang Pauh stronghold in this election, Perak Umno chief Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir responded by saying Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) “are not afraid of Anwar”.
Perak Umno youth head Khairul Azwan Harun reportedly said he welcomes the de facto PKR leader to contest in Perak. And should he be given the chance by the BN leadership, he would very much like to stand against Anwar.
To Khairul, the Opposition Leader “won’t have much impact” on Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) challenge in Perak as “Anwar’s popularity in the state is on the decline”.
Of course, Perak PKR begs to differ. To Anuar Zakaria, the state PKR secretary, his party’s de facto leader will have a big impact and Umno/BN “are actually very worried” despite the “bravado” and claim Anwar’s popularity is on the wane.
Supporters of PR, even outside Perak, will surely go along with that view. So too some (or should it be many?) “neutrals” who are saying BN is “running scared” pointing to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent remarks that “Anwar is running away from Permatang Pauh as he is not confident of winning in his constituency”.
That remark, they say, “proves the impact Anwar will have wherever he goes” and as such Umno/BN, especially Mahathir, wants to “confine” him to Permatang Pauh. To them, Mahathir would not have said what he said if that wasn’t the case.
“I’d prefer he goes to Perak to spur the assault to regain the state. It’ll also signal that he’s a leader acceptable anywhere and not just in his comfort backyard.” That’s how Dr Hatta Ramli, the PAS election director, puts it.
But a Perak-based political observer is not “in favour of Anwar plying his trade in Perak, only because his presence will boost PR’s chances in the state”. With or without Anwar in Perak, said the observer, “PKR and PR have a good chance of winning.”
To the observer, “the trend is already there. Anwar should stay where he currently belongs. Muhammad Nur Manuty and the current crop of PR leaders, especially PAS and DAP, are at their best”.  (Former Abim president Muhammad Nur Manuty is the current PKR information chief and is the party’s designated candidate for the Bagan Serai parliamentary seat for the upcoming election).
However, a source at the DAP headquarters feels “Perak could be a good choice for Anwar because PKR will contest the most seats”.  He goes on to say that “Anwar can boost the morale of PKR people as well as strengthen the resolve of DAP”.
And as Malay votes are crucial, “Anwar [and PKR] can help PAS to convince Malay voters”, said the source.
All that is dismissed — as expected — by an Umno strategist linked to the office of party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak. According to him, Anwar “will not change anything”.
To him, the battle for Perak has always been “50:50”, adding that Anwar should instead go to Negri Sembilan or Melaka where it’s more challenging.
He feels “this is personal ego. Anwar wants to defeat a minister, Husni, Zahid and so on”.  Federal ministers from Perak Umno include DatukSeri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah, the second finance minister; Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the defence minister; and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
Zahid, a one-time ally of Anwar when the Opposition Leader was in Umno, does not want to be drawn into discussing  this except to say:
“Silalah bertanding di mana sahaja. Malaysia negara demokrasi.” (Go ahead. Contest anywhere. Malaysia is a democratic country).
As the Umno strategist sees it, Anwar contesting in Perak is “not a national consideration but more a personal consideration”.
To many, “national consideration” from the PR standpoint would be winning the federal administration. From what has been said thus far, the impact Anwar would have on PR’s challenge at state level  is “clear” for want of a better word. (In the case of Perak, it is to win back the state, while if Anwar goes to Selangor it’s to help defend the state, won in 2008).
Hence, the one question popping up now is, well, on the “national consideration”. How will Anwar’s candidacy in Perak or for that matter Selangor, help the PR? At the federal level?
Said a political commentator, while for state seats Anwar contesting outside Permatang Pauh will have an impact, “it makes no difference for the battle for parliamentary seats”.
But for Hatta it’s like this: “Since we are moving to Putrajaya, I support the leadership plan to reshuffle their seats.”  Leaders, said Hatta, can help mount a real challenge for not so safe parliamentary seats currently held by BN stalwarts.
He went on to say: “The presence of leaders will create excitement among voters and hard work among party election workers, not just in a particular constituency but statewide.”
So it’s obvious that PR aims to win federal as well as the states. But the DAP source has this to add: “Anwar will surely know the risk if he leaves Permatang Pauh for a tougher seat. What if PR forms the federal government but Anwar were to lose his seat. Who then shall be PM?”
Anwar, like Lim Kit Siang and PAS’ Salahuddin Ayub, could very well be “willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for a better Malaysia”. Still the risk for Anwar is much bigger than for Lim or Salahuddin.
The DAP source is quick to draw us to what Anwar said or rather did not say: “Anwar didn’t actually say he wants to contest outside
Permatang Pauh.” The source believes Anwar “is testing the waters”. So too the Perak political observer: “Probably Anwar wants to test the waters.”
Perhaps. What’s that they say about politics being the art of the possible?

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