Anwar: A tryst with destiny - Abdullah Ahmad



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Anwar has appealed to his opponents to stop slandering him saying that "enough is enough". If it does not stop Anwar will fight back. There is no doubt about that. Via a poem which he said he penned while in detention at Kamunting in the early seventies, and which he recited forcefully and dramatically at the end of his adjournment speech at the just concluded Umno general assembly he said:

Bunga Kemunting di dalam pagar/ (I'm) the flower which blooms in the enclosure at Kemunting.
Kembang mewangi semerbak sunyi/ Emitting in the stillness sweet seductive fragrance.
Dengan helah pencak pendekar/ With the adroitness of a self-defence guru.
Tak kan tergugat pahlawan sejati/ A pukka warrior is never unnerved.

Need Anwar say more?

Even if I have not captured the nuance of Anwar's works perfectly, I believe Anwar has made his stance very clear hasn't he? It was a very sick attack, unproven and callous. In a way Anwar's accusers are perpetrating a form of sexual assault! In my 60 years I have learned a lot more about temptation than President Kennedy's only son John F. Kennedy Jr.

He penned this in the latest issue of George of which he is the editor-in-chief: "I've learned a lot about temptation recently (he is 36 years old and married). But that does not make my desire any less. If anything to be reminded of the possible perils of succumbing to what's forbidden only makes it more alluring. But while I'm playing Hamlet with my will power (should I or shouldn't I?), there's always the distraction of gawking at the travails of those who simply couldn't resist. We can all gather, like urchins at the hanging to watch those poor souls who took a chance on fantasy and came up empty-handed - to remind ourselves to keep to the safety of the middle path.

"If one allowed oneself to be ruled by passion and instinct as seemed in the case of Mike Tyson who bit off his tormentor's ear he became an outcast; conform utterly and endure a potentially dispiriting, suffocating life.

"Two members of my family chased an idealised alternative to their life. One left an embittered wife, and another in what looked to be a hedge against mortality, fell in love with youth and surrendered his judgment in the process. Both became poster boys for bad behaviour. Perhaps? they deserved it. Perhaps they should have known better. To whom much is given much is expected, right?"

No body knows exactly - but could it have been this strong editorial that made Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, to withdraw from running for the Governor of Massachusetts next fall? He will continue to be a Congressman but as Michael Shnayerson, a contributing editor of Vanity Fair writes (Aug 29, Los Angeles Times): "Mostly, I think I feel sentimental: for the seeming end of a political dynasty that began nearly a century ago with the scrappy accession of "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald to Mayor of Boston. Joe will stay in Congress, his cousin Patrick, too, but the sign one hears in Massachusetts
today is the sound of a legacy humbled."

The moral standard of a potential prime minister in an "Islamic" nation such as Malaysia must and should be uncompromisingly high.

Be that as it may, the real criterion should be how well Anwar can do his job. He did a passable job as acting prime minister and although I will be maligned for this I maintain that Anwar hitherto is the best candidate amongst the hungry and ambitious pack of Umno politicians to lead Malaysia after Mahathir.

While Anwar can never be a mirror image of Mahathir? Anwar can, with the help of good and mature advisers, handle the political load he shall inherit from Mahathir.

This is an incredible time at home. Those persons who are pragmatic and nimble will overcome any crisis more quickly than those who just sit on their hands.

The political situation at home? I suppose has not changed much (except for the ringgit, the stock market and the delay indefinitely of several mega projects), nevertheless, it is changing - may be not fast enough. It is quite different from the time when Anwar made "a tryst with destiny" in 1981.

Time will tell, and I believe there will emerge a fuller picture of Anwar - a consummate and attractive man - to rescue him both from the sentimentalists and supporters and from the debunkers and his opponents.


Dato' Abdullah Ahmad is Malaysia's Special Envoy to the United Nations

(This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Sun )

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