Behind the Anwar-Kadir Jasin spat

Opinion  |  Terence Netto
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Right now, the men in the news are the prime minister-in-waiting, a.k.a. Anwar Ibrahim, and the spokesperson for the Council of Elders to the Pakatan Harapan government, A Kadir Jasin.

Both are caught in what may be called anomalous situations - positions in seeming contradiction to the ones they have taken in their past.

Now Anwar affects to be putative defender of the royal institution and its concomitants – Malay rights and Islamic religion.

In his pre-May 9 incarnation, he was for needs-based affirmative action for all Malaysians and for an Islam that is race-blind.

Veteran journalist Kadir has not said anything to derogate Malays rights or Islamic religion; he has long been a sentinel on its ramparts.

But in his latest blog posting, Kadir did cast aspersions on the royals, to wit, that for all the ample provisioning the state makes for them, he implies they have not pulled their weight when it came to looking out for the rakyat's interests against imperial overreach by the electorally-ousted Najib Razak government.

This criticism has drawn the nominally egalitarian Anwar's attention.

Anwar rapped Kadir for “disparaging remarks” about the royals and faulted him for “major factual errors” made in the course of comments on royal profligacy at the public trough against implied parsimony in securing the rakyat's interest.

Anwar made these comments about Kadir at a press conference where he wasn't asked his reaction to an oblique comment Kadir made about Anwar in the same post on the royals.

These days, Kadir said Anwar is behaving like a political “commissar”, an epithet borrowed from the Soviet era when the label stood for powerful appointees who scrutinised communist personnel and works for ideological rectitude.

This description must have rankled Anwar; his defence of the Malay rulers is seen as a convenient facade for the discharge of bile against Kadir's equating him to a commissar.

The political static between Anwar and Kadir has a history going back more than two decades...

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