14 May, 2008

Devotion and derision in the presence of an absent Anwar Ibrahim

There is no escaping Anwar Ibrahim, he of the politics of consolidation and reinvention. Anywhere you look and everywhere you see where engaging debates on economy, finance, culture, politics and religion percolate endlessly, our Datuk Seri’s name pops up like instant message alerts and his presence virtual and insistent, like a hologram programmed to appear when his name is uttered in hush or harsh tones.

There is little or no middle ground where Anwar is concerned. Think or talk about him and you feel overjoyed and passionate about his radical ideas of people supremacy, or you feel loathing and disgust at his chameleonic ideology of exploiting an opening that feeds his self-interest.

Consider the impact Anwar had been in just the past few days:

:: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad accused Anwar of ulterior motive in releasing the cellphone video recording of V. K. Lingam allegedly brokering senior judicial appointments. Anwar, the ex-PM claimed, was trying to undermine Lingam’s credibility as a lawyer defending Dr Mahathir against Anwar’s RM100 million lawsuit;

:: Anwar dismissed Dr Mahathir’s accusations, pointing out that the Lingam video was taken in 2001 when he was still in Sungai Buloh prison;

:: Khairy Jamaludin (BN-Rembau) launched a well-prepared attack during his debate on the royal address against Anwar, slamming the ex-DPM of inflating his own importance in curbing petrol price hikes during his tenure as Finance Minister and also failing absolutely to check the 1997 financial crisis.

This Anwar-influenced conviction has permeated into the Dewan Rakyat since it commenced proceedings late last month, if you were to also add the Anwar claim that 34 Sabah BN Mps are ready to defect to Pakatan Rakyat and a BN MP who accused Anwar of fixing him when the ex-DPM was Umno deputy president.

Today was no different: Anwar’s name was bandied about in equal measures of devotion and derision, more so after he was recently adjudged to be one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world under the segments of leaders, thinkers, heroes, artists and scientists.

If you are a Parti Keadilan Rakyat MP, like N. Gobalakrishnan (PKR-Padang Serai), you will parrot Anwar’s name with the commitment of a cultist, singing praises of leadership, exultation and heroism. If you are a BN MP, like Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir (BN-Jerlun), you will disparage Anwar’s name with the conviction of a loyalist, barking condemnation of treachery, megalomania and deception.

Gobalakrishnan has been involved in most major altercations in the confrontation with BN backbenchers during the debate on the royal address but today as he held the floor, he declined to give way to BN backbenchers to seek clarification in the same manner that Khairy simply refused to budge from his no-clarification stand yesterday

Before singing praises for Anwar, Gobalakrishnan echoed the political tsunami cliché that catapulted him and a horde of opposition members as unlikely MPs while demanding the release of five members of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) detained under the ISA. For good measure, he also demanded that the ISA be abolished and still latching on the ISA, demanded that the Government pay reparations to all former ISA detainees, including Anwar Ibrahim.

All and fully expected but when Mukhriz took the floor, he meandered a bit on the mundane stuff before refocusing on the flavour of the week – a well-heeled three-point attack on Anwar.

First, Mukhriz alluded to the TIME 100 special in naming Anwar as one of its inductees for leaders and revolutionaries. Before anyone in the House thought that Mukhriz was issuing a begrudging praise, he dived into the accompanying essay lauding Anwar, penned by Paul Wolfowitz – former US Deputy Secretary of Defense and World Bank president who resigned in controversial fashion – and quickly named him as one of the people responsible for the mass murder of the Iraqi people. “Why is Anwar in cahoots with Paul Wolfowitz?” he asked in an unrushed, calm tone.

Secondly, he claimed that an article reported by the Jerusalem Post postulated that Anwar will be Malaysia’s future Prime Minister. “This proves that Israel agrees with the idea that Anwar can become prime minister of Malaysia. Why is this?”

Thirdly, Mukhriz claimed that the Foundation of the Future, a foreign organisation chaired by Anwar, received US$35 million from the United State, US$10 million from Bahrain and US$11 million from unknown sources. Mukhriz also repeated an earlier allegation that Anwar had a hand in bringing in Wolfowitz’s girlfriend Shaha Ali Riza into the foundation.

For the record, Anwar had issued a statement in May last year disputing the allegation, insisting that the Foundation obtained pledges of US$56 million only funds from Turkey, United Kingdom and Jordan, among others, but not the US. Anwar also insisted that he did not appoint Reza to the Foundation but that she was first assigned by the World Bank through the US State Department to the Foundation in late 2005 before he became Chairman.

But Mukhriz was not at all interested in Anwar’s explanation, reasoning that being the man tipped to become the next Prime Minister of Malaysia, how he can collude with a known neocon responsible for the deaths of many Iraqis.

As he concluded his debate, he declared. “Can we allow this? I will assure you that Umno will defend steadfastly against this man from becoming Prime Minister.”

There’s no escaping Anwar Ibrahim…

- By : Azmi Anshar, NST Online.

Folks, do you want to know " How BN finished RM500k in less than 60 days"? read here.

Meanwhile, the UK regional newspaper publisher, Johnston Press announced drastic measures on Wednesday to shore up its finances as it warned that a drop in advertising revenues had accelerated in the last two months.

The group announced a one-for-one rights issue and a separate subscription that will together raise some £212m to pay down debt, to help the company “weather the current cyclical pressures whilst progressing with investments in its digital and related activities”.

The UK regional newspaper publisher warned it might breach its financial covenants without the additional finance as it cautioned that first-half profits would be hit by impairment charges.

In addition, certain Johnston family members have committed to sell 10 per cent of the company’s equity to Usaha Tegas, a Kuala Lumpur-based investment vehicle controlled by Ananda Krishnan, one of Asia’s richest men. Usaha also agreed to subscribe to new shares worth £42.7m, taking its total stake to 20 per cent. The Malaysian group is paying 135¾p a share for its stake.

The Johnston family currently owns 19.5 per cent of Johnston Press.

Read the news here.



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