LETTER

Anwar was no different from those in Umno

Saifulbahri Kamaruddin

Published
Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

I am writing to comment on Luk's letter in which he quoted Anwar Ibrahim as saying that when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in power, the latter used subtle racist tactics. It appeared that Luk was trying to absolve Anwar of such discriminatory practices.

Luk acknowledged that Anwar's view was that of an 'insider' in the ruling party Umno. And this should already show Anwar's own conduct while in power. While the current and past polemics on the strained ties between Malaysia and Singapore is debatable, one should not make the mistake that Anwar was separate from the rest in government.

If the Malaysian side or Mahathir was racist, then Anwar was very much part of the whole setup, giving inflammatory speeches that set the pulses of Chinese on both sides of the causeway racing. Anwar was certainly not innocent of such a practice, if indeed the Malaysian leadership did conduct racism. For that matter, Lee Kuan Yew, when he was in power, was really no different - thus the accusations and rhetoric reverberated on both sides of the causeway.

I was a journalist in the mainstream media for over 20 years, and very often I covered Anwar's functions, especially involving Umno, its youth wing and Abim (Islamic Youth Movement of Malaysia). I had never heard of one speak with so much disdain of the Chinese before. We, the journalists, knew that Anwar was trying to be all things to all people, so when he addressed 'kampung' people with a skewed view of inter-communal affairs, he would tell them what they wanted to hear.

The reporters would duly file their stories to the editors, who then would mangle the reports to make Anwar look good, even if that meant less accuracy. Yes, indeed - Anwar appointed most of the editors in the mainstream media, and he certainly did not mince his words when it came to relations with Singapore or the ethnic Chinese. At one Umno youth rally in 1987, he ranted and raved, urging Chinese Malaysians to 'go back to China' if they were not happy in Malaysia. But, of course, that was not published for fear of damaging his image.

So, now the former deputy prime minister is trying to be an angel, supposedly innocent of everything that occurred when he was in power. It was the same with his accusations of the government being corrupt, the very institution of which he had been part of for 15 years and had enjoyed its largesse and dispensed patronage in a way typical of Umno even now.

It insults my intelligence to read of him accusing his former compatriots and colleagues of being what he himself was wholeheartedly.

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