When Anwar Ibrahim emerged from six long years in prison, he could have retired from politics and taken to memoir-writing or the lecture circuit or catch up on lost time with his family. But he threw himself into a crusade to save the country from oppressive rule, which again put him on the path of head-on collision with Umno and the government.
He would have anticipated the bitterness with which the government would fight him, though perhaps not the depths to which they would sink in trying to destroy him. For the Barisan Nasional (BN), Anwar must be annihilated politically and personally, because Anwar advocates Reform, and real reform spells the end of the political life of the BN. The crumbling structure of the BN is now held up by a wide array of oppressive laws such as the Internal Security Act, Sedition Act, Police Act, Printing Press and Publications Act; and by tainted institutions such as the police, judiciary, attorney-general’s office and the Election Commission. BN leaders know that Anwar’s reforms will sweep away those laws, redeem those institutions and thus bring about the death of their coalition.
But it is Anwar’s astonishing resilience and fighting spirit that has captured the imagination and admiration of ordinary Malaysians. Though facing terrible odds, he never once gave up. Since 1998, they have thrown everything they have at him, yet he is still standing and still defiant. The government is baffled, their strategy is in tatters; hence, the desperate and now widely discredited sex-tape smear attempt against Anwar. The involvement of former Melaka Chief Minister Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik leaves no doubt of Umno’s constant plotting against Anwar and their complicity in the sex-tape conspiracy.
Both Dr.Mahathir and Najib thought they could crush Anwar and his reform movement with massive state power and financial muscle; neither men foresaw Anwar’s titanic and ceaseless struggle. The fact and manner of his struggle itself has brought positive change to the country; the people’s expectations of the government has radically changed and they make their just demands with a boldness unheard of in the pre-reformasi era. Anwar’s epic struggle has put our nation through a process of appreciating, asserting and regaining our rights as citizens and led to a maturing of our democracy. Indeed, there appears to have been a special providence in the fall and rise of Anwar Ibrahim. Like Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, Anwar Ibrahim is Malaysia’s indispensable, necessary politician.