Anwar hits at rivals in Financial Times comment of sabotage

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Anwar Ibrahim, former Prisoner of Conscience and Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia speaks at an Amnesty staff meeting, London 9 March 2005.

Anwar Ibrahim, the Prime-Minister-in-waiting in Malaysia hit back at rivals for what he called an attempt to sabotage his rise as the next PM of the country.

The attempt at sabotaging him was circulating on social media but is now a public affair after Anwar’s outburst in comments to the Financial Times.

With his comments, the rumours are now proven to be true.

When the Barisan Nasional was in power, the rumour mill was the actual true storytelling vehicle, and unfortunately, it remains a stigma in New Malaysia.

The Barisan Nasional regime under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak spent millions fighting-off the rumour mill. In the end, it got the better of the Najib regime with the May 9 collapse of the BN government.

The truth is Malaysia under Dr Mahathir in 2019 is still struggling with rumours, which is circulating like wildfires across social media networks. Some of them are fake news, but a load of them are factual, though they
are not reported either by the new mainstream media or the old ones.

Malaysian portals (the new mainstream media) were abuzz of a story from the Financial Times on the challenge faced by Anwar from his own (former?) blue-eyed-boy Azmin Ali.

The story of Azmin, Malaysia’s economic affairs minister, attempting a coup against Anwar was in circulation on Whatsapp while TISG exposed the fissures within the Pakatan Harapan (in particular within the PKR with a faction rising against Anwar and the aversion of the Bersatu, the party of Dr Mahathir has for Anwar).

In the end, Anwar found it necessary to make the opposition against his potential accession as PM known to the foreign media.

On January 2, FT quoted Anwar as saying there are “pockets, people who for their own reasons would like to sabotage these arrangements”, Mr Anwar told the Financial Times in an interview. “I can’t deny, some people in the ruling coalition [have] a different agenda.”

Pressed by the local media, Anwar said the same thing but in a veiled tone perhaps for local consumption.

Anwar, who is the PKR president, has denied claiming the existence of a conspiracy within Pakatan Harapan to stop him from succeeding Dr Mahathir as the next prime minister.

“I never said that. No fake news will be entertained,” he told a press conference after the Harapan presidential council meeting in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

Anwar was commenting on the FT report on the possible sabotage of the arrangement for him to succeed Dr M as PM and that some people in the ruling coalition have a different agenda.

The PKR president said what he meant was that certain elements might disagree with the transition plan, which in effect means there are people who are possibly trying to sabotage his accession to power.

“It’s a democratic process. What is important is that Harapan (has) agreed, and Mahathir and I have agreed (on the power transition),” Anwar said at the press conference where Dr Mahathir, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng (Finance Minister), as well as Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, and secretary-general Anuar Tahir were present.

FT made it clear that Anwar Ibrahim is facing threats from rivals and it quoted analysts who said Azmin Ali was leading the opposition to Anwar’s PM bid.

Who is Azmin Ali?

TISG was told the latter is a desperate politician who was isolated during his tenure as Menteri Besar (translate as Chief Minister) of the richest state in Malaysia, Selangor.

Azmin is said to have used the instability created by the famous “Kajang Move” to push his bid to become the MB of Selangor.

Prior to his accession to power in the state, Azmin was competing with Wan Azizah Wan Ismail – wife of Anwar – for the post.

Some say Azmin out-manoeuvered Anwar in the aftermath of the Kajang Move, beating Wan Azizah who faced rejection from several political parties and also apparently form the political kingmakers in Selangor.

Azmin is accepted as a major figure of the ‘reformasi’ movement launched by Anwar Ibrahim before he was arrested and beaten in jail, but Azmin was overshadowed by other more prominent names the likes of Nurul Izzah and Wan Azizah who gained fame for their ceaseless efforts to free Anwar and bring down the authoritarian regime under Dr Mahathir.

Azmin was also overshadowed for years by the mighty figure of Raja Petra Kamarudin, seen by most of the ‘reformasi’ followers as the man who helped largely in the campaign to free Anwar.

As the boiler man – that is the man whom no one really sees in the forefront though he is the most important part of the machinery – Azmin suffered from a lack of popularity.

In the years following Anwar’s release from jail and the latter’s imposition of his style (contested in many ways) of leadership, Azmin sunk almost into oblivion.

Then came the opportunity to remove the incumbent and unwanted Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, Azmin made a bold move to capture a post not cut for him by the PKR leadership.

He seized the moment, became MB but was yet an almost unknown figure to most of the Selangorians, say analysts to TISG.

Azmin is no stranger to controversies. He is also a constant reminder of how siblings rivalry can be damaging to one’s reputation.

Azmin has an estranged sister Ummi Hafilda a Malaysian businesswoman, who also became a witness in the Anwar Ibrahim sodomy trials in 1998.

Ummi made the headlines as a ‘slayer’ of Anwar and was vindicated when Anwar was jailed in the first Sodomy case.

Hated by reformists, it is said she lost her brother Azmin to the movement.

Azmin Ali also has another controversial sibling, entertainer Azwan Ali. Commonly known as Diva AA, he is a Malaysian television host and actor.

Azuan lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) against Azmin, alleging abuse of power and corrupt practices.

As an independent candidate against his brother Azmin, Independent candidate Azwan, who was contesting the Bukit Antarabangsa state seat only managed to secure 90 votes against Azmin’s 25,512 majority-vote.

Umno-PAS links?
Azmin Ali became MB of Selangor partially due to the support from the Islamists PAS. The Selangor state was in a difficult conjuncture and the PKR-DAP coalition needed the support of the PAS to retain the state.

A slip in support from the PAS would have meant Azmin would have never reached the highest pinnacle in his political career in Selangor.

With the FT article alleging Azmin is now bidding to be the next PM (he is known by some activists as the ‘adopted’ son of Dr Mahathir), there are now rumours that he is collusion with the PAS and the Umno in a move that could assure him the biggest job in Malaysia.

Rumours have it that Azmin is in talks with Najib’s cousin Hishammuddin Hussein – ex-Minister of Defence of Malaysia. The talks concluded with proposals for the UMNO MP’s who are part of Hishammuddin’s pact to support Azmin.

Indeed, Umno’s support will not be sufficient for Azmin to overthrow the Pakatan regime because working with Umno would mean he would have broken away from the PKR.

He would need the support of the 16 PAS MP’s and he will also need to gain support from a large chunk of PKR MP’s, which is less likely according to analysts.

Nevertheless, the Umno is circulating the rumours that it might have a saviour in Azmin.

Azmin’s wife

During the turbulent times in 1998 onwards, Azmin’s wife was accused of having an affair with Anwar in addition to the other allegations of sexual misconduct against the former Deputy PM.

But to add insult to injury, the key prosecution witness in Anwar’s trial and the person accusing Azmin’s wife of having an affair was… Azmin’s own sister.

According to the Cilisos website, before Anwar’s sacking and arrest, a letter was sent to Dr Mahathir detailing the various allegations against the then deputy PM.

The letter was written by Azmin’s sister, Ummi Hafilda Ali, who said she discussed the matter with her siblings who allegedly helped her spy on Azmin’s wife before confronting Azmin.

Consequently, Ummi Hafilda was disowned by her father in a letter stripping her of her inheritance for her alleged involvement in the conspiracy against Anwar.

Ummi claimed Azmin bribed their father to disown her.

However, Azmin and his wife moved on from the public trials where mattresses were brought to court to show evidence of sexual intercourse between Anwar and the poor lady whose name was trashed in public.

Political quicksands

With the Umno spreading all sorts of rumours, it is a fact that Azmin would be stepping in a political quicksand if he were to join Najib’s party in an alliance of the sort.

The stigma of Najib accused of ‘robbing’ the country of billions will follow the Umno for decades. Similar to the Bersatu, Azmin’s joining hands with the Umno will see him picking up rubbish from a fallen party.