Anwar the champion of democracy?

Those of you who have forgotten history and think that Anwar might be the right person to restore democracy, make things right and make the world a better place if becomes Prime Minister might want to read this post from the every expressive Patrick Teoh. Here’s the relevant extract:

Another thing that surprised me is that the self-appointed champion of the people, Anwar Ibrahim has been so quiet on the issue of RPK’s arrest and detention in Kamunting. On the day that RPK was sent off to the detention centre Anwar’s blog carried a headline advertising his interview with Al Jazeera!!! And how he is the ‘spark’ that lit Reformasi or some crap like that. (Well, he did issue a statement today, it’s on his blog now, that did mention RPK in one line. And of course today his own ass…sorry…is on the line.)

Blog ban a sign of a more deperate Malaysian government?

They say if all you have is a hammer then all your problems start to look like nails.

So it is with the Malaysian government. With Anwar Ibrahim now beating at the gates the Badawi government has gotten more desperate.

First some low ranking lackey called Saiful was asked to try to frame Anwar by filing a police report of alleged sodomy. Then they tried all ways to win over Permatang Pauh, and failed. Now the Malaysian Government, through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has asked Malaysia’s internet service providers to block access to Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s blog, Malaysia Today.

It is an ill-calculated move because the messagethis move sends out is that the Malaysian Government is desperate and that it is now clutching at straws to try to regain control of the political situation. It is ill-calculated because in this day and age you can’t really ban blogs without having egg on your face. Even then it is so easy for bloggers to set up mirror sites, such as this one, that it makes the move an exercise in total folly.

So why is the Malaysian government so steadfast in their own Long march of Folly?

The reason, IMHO, is that they have been in power so long and created an incestuous system of patronage and servility that they know of no other way to handle dissent.

If they had any brains they would get in some really smart advisors and take on Raja Petra Kamaruddin rather than block his site and make a martyr out of him. It is not that hard to do. RPK is passionate but he is also given to exaggerations, overstatements and a cavalier treatement of facts.

It would not take much from a professional to debunk what he says. And if the government can do that they would have merely a discredited discontent on their hands, rather than the martyred blogger, angry and a symbol of defiance against a government unable to restore control in their own country.

Wake up UMNO. The bells are tolling and they toll for you.

Anwar’s victory or Umno’s defeat?

Some would say that there is no difference. What matters is that Anwar Ibrahim won the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat with a resounding majority. And since elections are a zero sum gam, the Umno candidate lost the seat with an abysmal minority of votes. Either way you slice it Anwar wins.

Not true. If Anwar won the seat because the electorate supported his policies and his leadership, then he has a legitimate claim to being the rightful future Prime Minister of Malaysia. The victory would be an endorsement of the man and his politics.

However, if Anwar won because the voters hated the Umno leadership so much that they wanted to punish them with a humiliating defeat then Anwar’s victory has to be looked at in a different light because what the by-election means is that merely the electorate does not want Umno, or at least the Umno led by Badawi and Najib, to govern them. But just as not wanting one thing does not necessarily translate into wanting its opposite, the electorate’s rejection of Umno cannot then be interpreted to mean an endorsement of Anwar’s leadership and policies.

So which is it?

Answering this one question may change the game for Anwar’s bid for the country leadership.