The opposition is indebted to Anwar Ibrahim

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“If I'm sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow?”

― José Saramago, Blindness

COMMENT | Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not the only person who is indebted to political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim.

The opposition, its supporters and whoever is contemplating regime change in this country is indebted to the hopefully-soon-to-be-released political prisoner. Without Anwar, there would be no opposition in this country.

While it is easy being critical of someone like Anwar, whose political and historical baggage defines the political landscape that some Malaysians desperately want to change, I would argue that there would not even be an opportunity for some sort of change if it were not for Anwar and his compromised crusade against the Umno regime.

We must never forget that before Mahathir, the newly-christened PM-designate of Harapan, exhausted all possibilities of removing Najib Abdul Razak from within Umno, he was still committed to vilifying Anwar and the opposition.

While hatchets may have been buried, the opposition owes the people who support them a commitment to the reformasi agenda that was, and still is, a threat (albeit muted) to the Umno weltanschauung (world view).

It is important that a political leader like the DAP’s Lim Guan Eng reaffirms his support for Anwar, it is even more important that the opposition remains committed to the reform agenda that is the basis of Anwar’s struggle against the Umno regime.

While some people may scoff at that premise, the reality is that opposition supporters who vote for this compromised coalition want something more than the “stability” and “social contract” offered by the Umno establishment.

Here is a reality check. When Amanah’s Mat Sabu reminds us that non-Muslim majorities in Japan and Korea reject establishment corruption but in a country like Malaysia, "The Malays listen to khutbah on a weekly basis, but the more they listen the more they (seem to) support corruption," it is an indictment against the racial and religious politics that dominates this country.

However, the irony is that Bersatu, a political party designed to combat Umno, carries on the narrative that this country is defined by race and religion. This last part is axiomatic and to invest further in this narrative is not the point of this article.

Anwar could have gone the route of creating a solely “Malay” power structure but instead he followed the path of the DAP and attempted something unifying instead of following in the footsteps of Umno...

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