Wong Choon Mei
KUALA LUMPUR, March 22: Pakatan Rakyat has slammed the move by Umno-BN to discipline Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim over his recent accusations in Parliament that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia slogan was linked to 1Israel, a platform devised by Israeli leader Ehud Barak a decade ago.
Knocking Anwar down
Indeed, the charismatic reform icon and his Pakatan coalition have been riding high in the past weeks, overcoming a spate of defections by several recalcitrant lawmakers by taking the moral high ground.
Even more conspicuously the 63-year old Anwar - a former Finance Minister - has again been grandly feted by the international community. His recent two-night ceramah or political lectures in London won rousing applause and he was also due to meet former US vice president and Nobel Laureate Al Gore, as well as ex-Ireland president Mary Robinson.
Additionally, British MPs last week followed hot on the heels of their Australian counterparts. They tabled an early day motion in the UK Parliament denouncing his sodomy trial, which has been internationally condemned for being overtly fabricated by his political foes to destroy his career.
Anwar has accused Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor for plotting the sodomy charges. Both the UK and Austrialian lawmakers have urged the Malaysian government to ensure a fair trial for Anwar.
“It is clear that Najib and Umno-BN are running scared. Why so afraid of linking 1Malaysia with 1Israel?” PKR MP for Batu Tian Chua told Harakahdaily.
“Did Anwar hit bulls-eye? I want to add that there were also 1Australia and 1Britain in the past and both had championed racist xenophobia. Will 1Malaysia go down the same road?”
Why the overreaction over 1Israel?
On Monday morning, pandemonium erupted in the Malaysian Parliament when Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan cited Standing Orders 36 (2) to accuse Anwar of misleading the house with his accusations.
Overriding the objections from Pakatan lawmakers, deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee agreed to give Anwar 7 days to explain failing which Umno-BN MPs would be allowed to table a motion to refer him to the Rights and Privileges Committee. Anwar can be suspended from Parliament if found guilty.
Earlier this week, Anwar had told Parliament that Apco Worldwide - an international communications consultancy engaged by Najib to develop 1Malaysia - had played a similar advisory role in conceptualizing 1Israel.
Both the 1Malaysia and 1Israel platforms have underlying similarities in that they aim to unite various groups through the use of centrist rather than elitist or rightist policies. However Apco has denied involvement in 1Israel.
“Apco may deny but Najib still owes the nation an explanation why he - a Muslim leader - chose such a name that is so closely linked to a Zionist movement. The big question still remains why the overreaction, why the huge and concerted effort to shut Anwar up and to discredit him?” Tian asked.
Apart from the 1Israel attack, former PKR MP for Bayan Baru Zahrain Mohd Hashim has also been leading the charge against Anwar in Parliament.
Labeled by his former colleagues as the Umno-BN's new attack dog, Zahrain accused Anwar of promising that several Umno-BN lawmakers would defect to Pakatan on September 16, 2008, and that he had the support of the King and the armed forces in taking over the federal government.
Najib and his cohorts have seized on Zahrain's comments and now want the police to probe Anwar for ‘tarnishing’ the King’s image.
“I guess desperate times call for desperate measures and Najib must be really feeling the heat,” said Khalid.
“Frankly he needs to deflect attention badly. He is drowning in the oil royalty issue, the MCA is all set for another huge infighting battle on March 28 and he has to impress with the New Economic Model on March 30 but can he?”