Friday, July 18, 2008

Anwar restarts political road show after arrest

KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — Whether he will be charged in court or not for sodomy, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is set to continue his political road show with two ceramahs in Malacca tonight.

The tone of his voice after he was released from the police lock-up yesterday was a clear indication that he's going full steam ahead for his on-going nationwide ceramahs.

He needs to tell his supporters that he is alive and kicking; also a message to Barisan Nasional MPs and state assemblymen that they are welcome to jump ship any time to his opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat.

He will be in Malacca for two ceramahs tonight, in Kuantan, Pahang tomorrow night and in Batu Pahat, Johor on Sunday night. And that's just for this weekend. His Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) officials are preparing his itinerary for the rest of country for him to explain the latest turn of events in his journey for political redemption and a shot at being prime minister.

His supporters as well as fence-sitters in those states would surely want to know the story from the horse's mouth; his episode with the police, his live TV debate and his economic policies apart from his claims that Pakatan Rakyat can form the federal government by Sept 16.

For Anwar, the solidarity shown by his political partners — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang — throughout his ordeal with the police yesterday is an indication of an already strong support.

Despite what his supporters described as a minor hiccup — a rumour about certain PAS leaders warming up to their Umno counterparts — Anwar is adamant to move forward. His recent rallies in Negri Sembilan, Kelantan and Kedah received support of tens of thousand people.

The night before his arrest, Anwar again won the public relations game when he was seen live on TV debating with Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek. To many who had not seen him since 1998, it was a déjà vu to see the popular leader again — although he is outside of the government now.

Even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad thought it was not an even match, saying Shabery was far too inexperienced in a field that Anwar excelled, "i.e. talking".

"The subject naturally puts the Government on the defensive. Shabery's reference to what Anwar said about me in the past undermined Anwar's credibility somewhat. But it was obvious that Shabery was nervous," said the former premier in his weblog yesterday.

"Anwar can be convincing in his arguments especially with those who want to believe in him," said Dr Mahathir of the man he sacked a decade ago from his administration.

That too is another déjà vu for all to see and feel. While the court of law may or may not be convened for the case, at the moment Anwar has won over the jury in the court of public opinion.