Malaysiakini Letter

Unstoppable Anwar against immovable BN

Har Wai Mun  |  Published:  |  Modified:

‘Batman: The Dark Knight’ make its remarkable debut recently and threatened to rewrite some of those movie blockbuster records.

Besides adoring the battle action and Batman’s high-tech gadgets, the Malaysian audience could seriously ponder the Joker’s metaphor about his battle with Batman, mentioned towards the end of the movie: ‘Unstoppable forces meets immovable object’.

Well, is it similar with the battle between the Pakatan Rakyat’s ‘unstoppable’ forces of Makkal Sakhti lead by Anwar Ibrahim against the ‘immovable’ dominance of the Barisan Nasional (BN)?

Who shall prevail? The People Power revolution of 1986 against Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines resulted in the ‘unstoppable’ beating flat the ‘unmovable’ authoritarian regime.

Nevertheless, the same success was never shared in Myanmar where the ‘unstoppable’ forces of people power failed to free Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

Anwar Ibrahim continuously insists that the currently ‘immovable’ BN-lead government will fall by August or latest by September 2008. He seems to be building up the ‘unstoppable’ forces of Makkal Sakhti in the aftermath of the 12 th general election.

Anwar ‘won’ in his public debate over the issue of oil price hike against the forces of the ‘unstoppable’. Even so, it must be remembered that the BN still managed to form the federal government, giving them invaluable advantage to fortify their ‘immovable’ defence.

This battle game is simple. The BN just needs to reduce Anwar’s strength. Hence, time is on BN’s side. The longer this battle drags on, the higher the chance of victory for the BN.

Anwar and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) need speed and agility. Therefore, the sodomy case against Anwar directly or indirectly gives a ‘buying-time’ advantage to the BN. The same applies to the prime minister’s claim on ‘high level’ talks between Umno and PAS.

Anwar Ibrahim is the PR’s greatest strength and also their greatest weakness as the whole hope of the coalition seems to rest on the shoulders of this man. Perhaps this is what gave rise to the phenomenon called ‘Anwar bashing’.

Personal attacks on Anwar were obvious during and after the recent election campaign and in the above-mentioned public debate. The idea is that if Anwar is defeated, so is the whole of PR.

Fortifying BN ‘immovable’ power is the restriction on freedom of speech through some 47 pieces of legislation and ordinances which affect mass media operations in the country.

Some date to the colonial era, such as the Printing Presses and Periodicals Act (1948). Specifically for the education sector, there are various restrictions imposed on members of the academia through laws such as the Universities and Universities Colleges Act (UUCA) and the Statutory Bodies Act.

All these instil fear in Malaysians to speak up, thus thwarting constructive support for PR and Anwar Ibrahim. In the absence of support from all layers of the society due to this ‘fear factor’, the PR’s ‘unstoppable’ could be running out of steam pretty soon.

In the meantime, ‘reinforcements’ from DAP and PAS seem not enough. How about members of academia? Not much either.

Contemporary reinforcement for the ‘unstoppable’ forces only come from Anwar’s various ceramah , bloggers (some of them are very academic too, like Farish Noor) and hardcore supporters of PKR and maybe some from PAS.

Winning the Permatang Pauh by-election by an extraordinary majority would help.

If current status quo remains, it looks like the ‘immovable’ will remain in Putrajaya but who knows, there could be much more surprises!

Whatever happens, this battle of ‘unstoppable forces against immovable object’ is real. It is not a movie and will have a lasting impact on Malaysia’s political, economical and social spheres.

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