Laman Orang Kampong

Fall of a Malaysian Hero
The Anwar Ibrahim saga will forever be a blot on the nation's history

Anwar Ibrahim
Heir apparent to the Prime Minister

There are some events in a nation's history that have deep and lasting effect, causing ripples in time that radiate outwards and affect the thinking and feelings of future generations. Some are joyful and a cause for annual celebrations like Independence Day while others are tumultuous events that leave deep scars in the national psyche like a troubling memory that will not go away. The Americans have to live with the psychologically disturbing aftermath of the Vietnam War while the rise of Nazism still haunts the German soul. Decades later, Americans are still traumatized by the assassination of John F. Kennedy while the British will forever be touched by the untimely death of their beloved Princess Diana. Indeed the profound forces and events that mark a nation's progress are no different from the emotional storms that mark an individual's life in that they can either give us useful lessons to guide our future if we are 

Dr. Mahathir
Prime Minister of Malaysia

brave enough to confront them or none at all if we are foolish enough to pretend they never happened. The wise ones look back with the eye of hindsight hoping to learn from the past, disturbing though it may be while foolish ones who prefer to cocoon themselves in the complacency of the present are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past again and again.

So it is that in Malaysia, the political, social and legal turmoil caused by the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his subsequent trial will forever be etched into our national consciousness with deep scars of shame and regret that will not easily heal. Future generations of Malaysians will look back aghast at how we could have allowed it to happen, how we could have permitted one man to subvert and manipulate all our cherished instruments of democracy to serve his personal agenda of demolishing a political enemy. That he had overseen most of Malaysia's economic development is no excuse to drag the nation into moral bankruptcy and ride roughshod over universal concepts of truth, justice, honour, morality or even common decency. That man is of course Dr. Mahathir Mohamed who sacked his ex-Deputy and heir apparent Anwar Ibrahim in an ignominious saga that will forever be a blot on the nation's history and a destruction of his own personal legacy. The nation was also robbed of an extraordinary leader who could have led Malaysia shinning into the next millennium. Perhaps in hindsight we will see that we have put ourselves in grave danger by allowing Mahathir to grab and consolidate for himself too much power and we have been too trusting that such power will not be abused.

But abused it was from the unlawful sacking of Anwar Ibrahim on Sept 2 1998 without the prior approval of the King to the staging of the subsequent show trial. He was sacked for alleged moral indecency and accused of everything under the sun from adultery, sodomy, corruption and abuse of power to economic sabotage and being a foreign agent for good measure. A few days later Mahathir moved to expel him from the United Malay National Organisation party. That it was more than a moral issue is evident as no individual has ever been expelled from UMNO for moral crimes. Under UMNO's feudalistic patronage system, loyalty to the leader is of paramount importance and no amount of corruption, moral decay or dereliction of duty is reason for expulsion so long as loyalty to the leader is maintained. 

Anwar addressing a crowd at a rally after his sacking

The most the guilty one has to do is to resign his or her public position when exposed and no charges will be pursued. But Anwar was summarily kicked out from the party as Mahathir felt his position was being threatened by his deputy.

Mahathir had cast Anwar into the political wilderness but at great cost. The sacking from both government and party created deep divisions within UMNO especially among the grassroot rank and file. Whole UMNO branches resigned to join opposition parties. People who had been apathetic to public affairs were moved to become political activists. On the internet, the only medium not controlled by the government, scores of web sites sprang up overnight to support Anwar and condemn Mahathir. Never before has a Malaysian Prime Minister been shown so much disrespect and
heaped with so much scorn.


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