Having spent so much time overseas of late, Anwar Ibrahim might be a little rusty on the realities of campaigning and he seems to have forgotten the golden rule that what you say today can come back to haunt you tomorrow.
Take his speech at the football stadium in Bangi Selangor this week. Whilst styling himself as the next leader of this country, Anwar reminded us that a Prime Minister should do what is best for the government and not pander to “cronies.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
But the very next day before the High Court businessman Low Thiam Hoe gave evidence about why he became involved in a RM445 million loan deal back in 1997. His answer was that he only got involved because the then-Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim was involved.
Commenting on a web of companies and individuals involved in the loan that was allegedly never repaid, Low told the court: “From what I know, they are all cronies of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.”
This was evidence given during a civil case that is yet to be resolved and it should be stressed no legal or civil action has so far been taken against Anwar. But it could cause problems for the Opposition Leader if he wants to point his finger at other politicians and their alleged cronies as GE13 approaches.
Anwar and indeed the whole of the Pakatan leadership will be dreading the timing of this case and every mention of Anwar’s name. So much of Pakatan’s pitch to voters is based on them being a clean (and of course, totally untested) alternative to Barisan Nasional that anything that even remotely questions that narrative will induce near-panic in the Opposition coalition as election day looms.
For Anwar, this strikes at the very heart of how he has carefully reinvented himself since his time on the other side of politics in the 1990s.
Just how much is at stake here can be demonstrated by a Star front page from almost four years ago. With the headline “Anwar: Name my cronies”, it was an all or nothing bid for Anwar to show the world he is not like the rest and up until now, many people have bought it.
But the civil case over that RM445 million loan rumbles on and Anwar continues to dodge subpoenas to be a witness. It is a bit like a child closing his eyes to make everyone else in the room disappear, because soon or later he will have to respond.
Anwar can’t wish away this case, and until the case is resolved, every mention in court of Anwar’s name and the “crony” word will make Pakatan Rakyat shudder.