Mahathir and Daim sent ‘peace feelers’ to Anwar Ibrahim?

In the wake of the Mahathir-Daim conflict, rumour has it that a group within UMNO purportedly is ready to ‘advise’ Dr Mahathir at next week’s UMNO Assembly to step down as UMNO President and Prime Minister. It seems Dr Mahathir would be asked to resign within three months. It is also being rumoured that the said group has Anwar Ibrahim in mind to lead a ‘reformed’ UMNO and become the Prime Minister after going through the necessary legal processes of being cleared on the trumped up charges of corruption and sodomy. There are also rumours that Dr Mahathir had sent ‘peace feelers’ to Anwar Ibrahim in his prison cell in Sungai Buloh. Stories are also making the rounds that Tun Daim’s group which is now seemingly at variance with Dr Mahathir, had also on their own approached Anwar Ibrahim. These rumours of Anwar being wooed by various squabbling groups in UMNO are circulating among UMNO members as the party prepares for its annual general assembly next week.

The truth or otherwise of these rumours aside, it all goes to show that UMNO is in deep trouble, and that Anwar Ibrahim continues to increasingly haunt UMNO from his prison cell in Sungai Buloh. The latest developments, especially the conflict between Dr Mahathir and Tun Daim has aggravated UMNO’s internal problems, and with at least 80 percent of the Malays having rejected UMNO, more and more UMNO members dared to dream of Anwar Ibrahim as the saviour. Just imagine how powerful Anwar is and also as to how UMNO badly suffers from the dearth of good leaders thanks to Dr Mahathir’s policy of appointing politicians of poor caliber, yes men and those with dirty records into top party and government posts.

An UMNO activist said that he truly hope there would be a turn of events, and then all of a sudden Anwar Ibrahim is back to lead UMNO and the country. To quote the man in full, “Ini berlaku, itu berlaku…tiba-tiba saja..Anwar dah jadi Presiden UMNO dan jadi PM, tiba-tiba aje…plup…macam tu,” ( Translation: “This happens, and that happens…all of a sudden Anwar becomes UMNO president and the PM, suddenly…..ploop …just like that”). Ha ha, just like that! Ploop!

The UMNO activist could not quite explain as to how the turn around of events would unfold. He admitted that Anwar’s return to lead UMNO and become PM is actually something he wished for given the problems plaguing UMNO with the sinister specter of defeat in 2004. He claimed many of UMNO’s grassroots are harboring a similar wish for Anwar to be exonerated and to return to lead the party. The five other UMNO members who were with him nodded their agreement.

When asked if  Anwar Ibrahim would agree to return, the UMNO activist said that in politics nothing should be discounted. He made it all so very simple. He failed to see that if Anwar were to return to UMNO it would be a betrayal to the Barisan Alternative parties which had unrelentingly and courageously stood by his innocence. It would be a betrayal to those who bravely took to the streets to demonstrate and to shout the now familiar cry of ‘RE-FOR-MASI’ that sent shivers down Dr Mahathir’s old battered spine.

No, Anwar would not betray those who had bravely stood for him. It would be political suicide on Anwar’s part to return to UMNO. Furthermore, why would Anwar want to return to UMNO when at least 80 percent of the Malays whose interests UMNO supposedly is representing have rejected UMNO. In fact for at least 65 percent of the Malays, their hatred of UMNO is so profound. Thus should Anwar for whatever the reasons return to UMNO, this deep hatred would bear upon Anwar. Anwar certainly would have all these negative repercussions figured out.

The UMNO activist somewhat painstakingly tried to provide prove that an anti-Mahathir group do really exists and that their numbers had since swell and they are expected to act  accordingly to topple Dr Mahathir at next week’s assembly. But then again these kind of rumours had surfaced prior to every UMNO annual assembly over the last few years, and nothing happened. Sharir Samad who was rumoured would table a motion of no confidence at last year’s assembly instead ended up praising Dr Mahathir sky high.

The UMNO activist and his friends argued that this time around things would be different. Dr Mahathir is in a beleaguered position in the party, and Musa Hitam who is said to be behind the move to topple Dr Mahathir should now get the backing of Tun Daim. Musa’s derogatory statements on the UMNO leadership in recent weeks were cited as signaling the beginning of the battle. According to the UMNO activist, Musa Hitam is using Suhakam to criticize Dr Mahathir’s leadership as can be seen from Suhakam’s support to Anwar’s request for medical treatment overseas as well as Suhakam’s strong statements against the inhuman and deplorable recent ISA arrests of opposition leaders from the Keadilan party. He stressed that he is actually saying the obvious.

The conversation with the UMNO activist and his friends ended with many questions left unanswered. Questions such as PAS and Keadilan’s growing strength, the Pak Lah factor and what would happen to Parti Keadilan in the event that Anwar agrees to return to UMNO, etc.etc. They seemed more bent on putting across the story, true or false, that the squabbling groups within UMNO are in the process of wooing Anwar Ibrahim. What were  said by the UMNO activists merely confirmed reports that more and more UMNO members are coming round into realizing that Dr Mahathir has become a great liability and a threat to UMNO’s very survival.

It is still to be seen if the UMNO members would be brave enough at next week’s UMNO assembly to translate their fear of the party becoming irrelevant into a motion of no confidence in Dr Mahathir’s continued leadership. It must however be remembered that to most UMNO members the overriding factor is money, and as such it could all finally boil down to which group could dangle more ringgit at the despicable greedy faces of the UMNO leaders and delegates to next week’s party gathering.

And of course, it must be borne in mind that Dr Mahathir had in the past rode through many stormy situations unscathed. He could again safely steer his way through. After all Dr Mahathir is at the helm of a police state and has no qualms about using the dirtiest of tactics and the most foul of methods to hang on to power.

Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!

Tarabulsi

24 Rabiulawal 1422 16 Jun 2001

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