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Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim retirement not seem like a political strategy, but more to a political reality

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By Lim Sue Goan

Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that he will step down if the alternative coalition fails to win the next general election. Is he trying to gain sympathy votes?

It does not seem like a political strategy, but more to a political reality.

First of all, Anwar has aged. He is currently 65 years old and he might not have enough mental and physical strength to fight for another five years. Take DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang, who is 71 years old this year, as an example, he used to hold ceramah around the country in the past, but he has attended less activities nowadays.

Sabah and Sarawak are separated from the Peninsula by the South China Sea. As Sabah and Sarawak are vast states with relatively less convenient transportation and communication systems compared to the Peninsula, good health is the primary condition to be opposition party members.

Secondly, he is entangled by lawsuits. The Attorney-General’s Chambers had filed a notice of appeal against Anwar’s acquittal on the sodomy charge. Besides, he is also facing three Bersih 3.0 charges.

Even if he is found not guilty and acquitted of his charges in the end, he still has to first attend courts, causing him no time and stamina for political affairs.

Thirdly, his appeal and political effects have subsided. When he was arrested in 1998, he enjoyed high popularity among the anti-ruling camp and some took him as a “phenomenal leader”. He was still influential even when he was in prison.

However, after being hit by the sodomy charges and sex video scandal, his image has been damaged in the Muslim community. If he fails to win the next election, it is afraid that his might lose his prestige forever.

Although the next general election might be the last battle for Anwar, the BN cannot be so naïve to think that it can sit back and relax as long as Anwar retires from politics. The anti-BN sentiment has been triggered and thus, the alternative coalition’s force would not be abated, regardless of whether Anwar retires or not.

As the middle man between the DAP and PAS, he contributed to the establishment of the alternative coalition. Even if the Pakatan Rakyat falls apart after Anwar’s leaving, the coalition could still be reunited by young leaders.

The civil society has been awaken since the first Bersih rally in 2007. The influence of the following Bersih 2.0 and 3.0 were then expanded to foreign countries. The people started to take initiative to launch peaceful assemblies to express their views over civic issues, including the Lynas rare earth refinery plant, Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project in Pengerang, the demolition of Jalan Sultan and Chinese Education. Their concern has expanded from community issues to national issues.

After being hit by one after another wave of shock and learning lessons again and again, members of the public are now pursuing a sound system granting them the right to decide.

The BN’s political plate, particularly the Malay sovereignty, has been shaken by the impacts. As the appeal of the issues has surpassed races and politics, Umno has been moving closer to the middle in recent years. However, it is apparently not enough.

Internet has linked up the anti-ruling forces and young people have learned from anti-ruling movements in foreign countries. They have become more and more organised.

Even if without Anwar and the Pakatan Rakyat, I believe that some young professionals would still form new non-racial political parties that are close to the civil society. It is no longer important whether Anwar will retire or not. The BN has no way to deter the growth of the anti-ruling force as it is a global trend. – Sin Chew Daily