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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Anwar believes Pakatan is ready even without him

He said Pakatan was already a solid united pact with potential young successors including Azmin who he said may be brash in his "stunts" but more than capable to lead.

SUBANG JAYA: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is confident in Pakatan Rakyat’s second tier of leadership and discounted the notion that the pact will collapse in his absence.

Speaking at a closed door dialogue session with young professionals here, the PKR de facto leader said the pact was armed with young and more than capable leaders that can take Pakatan forward should he be convicted and jailed for sodomy.

“Once you’re prosecuted you’re already damned,” he said laughingly to some 150 people who attended the forum.

Anwar is currently facing trial for allegedly sodomising his former aide, a charge he claimed was engineered by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor.

Anwar’s persona, attributed to his charisma and moderate liberal politics, is seen as the binding force in the Pakatan coalition rife with infighting.

The top leadership appears to be gelling well but much of their ideological differences remain conveniently buried for now and Anwar’s possible incarceration would possibly break Pakatan.

Whether or not the bloc is ready for future without Anwar remains unknown. While it is likely that Anwar has identified his successor, Azmin Ali who is now PKR deputy president who happens to be his blue-eyed boy, observers say the latter lacks the calibre to lead and hold Pakatan together.

But the opposition leader claimed Pakatan was already a solid united pact with potential young successors including Azmin who he said may be brash in his “stunts” but more than capable to lead.

“Sometimes when the (current) leadership is too strong, we tend to not see the potential of second tier leaders,” he said, referring to rising political starlets like PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli and communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad who is also Seri Setia assemblyman.

He said this in reply to a youth during the forum who urged Pakatan to move away from its dependency on political icons and based their struggle more on ideologies.

Anwar added that differences and open spat in Pakatan was part and parcel of a democracy which he said the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition was bankrupt of.

“Do you see any quality MPs in Umno or BN? Sometimes when I’m in Parliament and I look at them (sighs),” he said, drawing laughter from the audience.

Youth must act on their own

The lack of real capable leaders in the ruling coalition was due to the much widely yes-man culture in BN and this, said the opposition leader, has contributed much to the nation’s political and economic woes.

Anwar urged the young to take matters into their own hands and suggested various possible ways to join Pakatan’s struggle for change, such as exploiting social medias like Facebook and Twitter.

“We have the numbers. We can never lose this battle. Every time one of them make a racist statement you should counter them,” he said, in reference to the escalating racial attacks on non-Malays by rights groups like Perkasa and Umno-owned Malay daily Utusan Malaysia.

Racial and religious tensions have reached fever high as hawkish elements within BN’s malay lynchpin intensifies its hardline communal politicking in the run up to the national polls tipped to be held year end.

The opposition leader said the youth holds significant power and could be a catalyst to a government change but they must first arm themselves with information.

To facilitate this, Anwar said he is currently working on a programme called the “Rakyat Empowering Programme”, an extension of Pakatan’s existing alternative policies with emphasis on the “democratisation of access to quality education”.

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