I was reading Helen Ang in Malaysiakini today, and her final question has preoccupied my mind for the better part of the day.
What will we do if they arrest Anwar again?
The question in its entirety would mean – what would all those who are now cheering on ‘the man of the hour do’, if the man gets thrown into a jail cell for another round of political acrimony?
In many senses – it is unlikely since everyone inside the country and outside it have been manoeuvring to create an atmosphere where Anwar cannot be arrested.
The battle of public perception developed since his 2004 release went on overdrive after Bersih and Hindraf. The public relations aka PR aka communications machine of the Pakatan Rakyat is magnificent.
BN has the majority of the states and 140 seats in parliament – and with a highly centralised structure of government, able to neuter the five Pakatan Rakyat states. Yet, the public nationwide sees the BN on the defensive continuously since the March elections.
The PR machine of Pakatan is magnificent not because Pas, Dap or PKR have the team – but a PR built by countless NGOs, Blogs and committed individuals. The PR the effort of the citizenry with newfound tools and it is relentless.
The Pakatan legal team is ever ready to pursue all available means to force the government to respond to issues and also their decisions – circa the Statutory Declarations, the DNA bill, Umno statements etc. The BN seem unable to make decisions without worrying about what will come of it.
And then there is the international brigade. Anwar’s powerhouse trio of Wolfenson, Camdesus and Martin led the support for him. These are the former presidents of the world bank, IMF and prime minister of Canada, they are no lightweights. Condaleeza Rice has weighed in that there are concerns in the States for a certain Anwar Ibrahim. Miss Rice is equivalent to the Bush administration saying to Malaysia. And if that measures low, then the first female supreme court justice (rtd)Sandra Day O’Connor and former Indonesian president Gus Dur – grandson of the founder of Nahdatul Ulama, Indonesia’s biggest Islamic group have shown support.
This is before an actual arrest. So the chips are not in the favour of the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s government. They will need a solid case that an impartial judiciary will find enough the put the man in jail again.
But what case? The testimony of his accuser Saiful is filled with inaccuracy based on the information he has released, and the first examining doctor has firmly acknowledged his findings, and even the religious bodies are on Anwar’s side.
What to do?
What to do indeed.
They arrest anyway
Ang realised the above too, the arrest if it happens would be one of complete defiance to reason or international perception. A typical Mahathir behaviour.
But if Mahathir was in power still, I doubt he can do a 1998 sequel. One, Anwar and friends are ready, and second the world that Mahathir ruled has changed and therefore so has his precious Malaysia.
So what Mahathir can pull of at the height of his power, can Abdullah or Najib pull off at the nadir of their power?
If they did, they themselves will be in a constant state of disarray.
Yet all the sense of confusion in the ranks of the oppressor does not abrogate us from acting if Anwar is in prison – for a long, short or remarkably short time.
The people have to activate themselves.
The dictatorship is at its end, and like a wounded dog ready to fall – it is at its most vicious if not dangerous. There will be limited number of government agencies still under the control of the PM, but they will strike.
Only a quick and comprehensive rakyat’s response will douse the fire of any totalitarian measure to end the democracy uprising in the country. Will we act then?
There will be one desperate lunge by Umno, they have to – so many of them are going to have falls without any grace. And before they wither they will lunge.
And that is when we keep our wits about us, evade and watch the wild bull collapse with a dumb look on its face.
It never thought we could think.