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Live TV debate, ACA query & police arrest in the continuing ‘Chronicles of Anwar Ibrahim’ epic

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Mohd Hafiz Safwan Md Rijani

Source: NST Online
URL: http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Wednesday/Frontpage/20080716193010/Article/index_html
(at 17/7/08 2.01 am)
DEWAN DISPATCHES: Live TV debate, ACA query & police arrest in the continuing ‘Chronicles of Anwar Ibrahim’ epic
By : Azmi Anshar

DEWAN RAKYAT July 16, 2008:

Can a man like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim have a lot on his plate and not flinch? Can he multi-task wildly contrasting spheres of political, allegedly criminal and social actions that include instigating law enforcement officers and not collapse in a heap of stressed-out confusion? Not Anwar and not while he is having the time of his life – redux.

Let’s put aside for a moment the current Anwar agenda and review the many phases in his colourful lives as one of THE socio-political zeitgeists of our time – student leader/provocateur in 1970s, the pivot in the activism against the Societies Act in 1981, the shocking defection to mainstream Umno politics in 1982, his rapid parallel ascendancy in Umno and the Cabinet influencing the national political agenda, his falling out with then PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad and finally his fall from grace in his sensational corruption/sodomy court trials in the late 1990s that kept him out of the political mainstream but not from the national consciousness.

And now, the Anwar zeitgeist is gunning for a new, spicier phase of his political travail. Here’s his plate for this year alone – acting as consigliore to convince a motley crew of political parties to get over despising each other in time to exploit the anti-Establishment resentment to bamboozle the BN in the March 8 polls, got sucked into another sodomy charge, retaliating by incriminating three top Government chieftains of various sordid crimes, and just this week, debating the Information Minister in a historic live TV debate on petrol prices, met up ACA officers to give a statement on his accusations against the IGP and AG, and just hours ago, whisked away unceremoniously by a mob of police officers to the police station under the glare of the international Press.

At Parliament House, the perennial buzz was on Anwar’s debate last night and his afternoon Hollywood-styled altercation with the police, and, out of the blue, a call for Anwar to surrender a DNA sample to police. The scent the aromas of a national conspiracy and book/movie rights could be experienced in just a whiff.

If Anwar Ibrahim’s links with the American neocons are as real as his critics made out to be, the movie “The Chronicles of Anwar Ibrahim” should not be far off, filmed in Panavision and starring Anwar as himself, a cast of hundreds and thousand of extras to make up the street demo scenes in what should be the political thriller of the decade.
Just as Anwar was hopping from one law enforcement inquiry to another, his name was again bandied inside the House, first in the morning and then in the afternoon, a 90-minute melee considered to be one of the ugliest in the new Parliament.

The pretender to the throne whom the political punditry considered to be closest to an Anwar Ibrahim clone – Khairy Jamaludin (BN-Rembau) – beseeched the PKR supremo to surrender a DNA sample to assist police in the sodomy charge investigations.

Khairy, in endorsing a Gerakan Youth proposal for an independent team with foreign experts to investigate the sodomy charge against Anwar, urged the Opposition to encourage Anwar to give his DNA sample voluntarily. "In the interest of truth, it will clear the air once and for all if he has the moral credibility to lead the country," he said in debating the Supplementary Supply (2008) Bill 2008.

“We can’t force anyone to give their DNA sample (but) if he (Anwar) is not afraid of the truth, I hope he (Anwar) will be present (at the Kuala Lumpur Police Headquarters), and if he dares, give the DNA sample to test whether the police report was correct or wrong. This is important,” went Khairy’s entreaty.

Khairy asseverated that the nature of the complaint against Anwar required a DNA sample. “There are accusations that there was anal penetration, so you have to prove (if there was not) and give the DNA sample for this purpose,” he went as the PR MPs went ballistic.

At this point, Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) and Opposition whip, demanded to know how Khairy knew details of the investigation. "It seems that you know more about the details of this case when we don't even have a copy of the police report," he said in a glare that could have imploded the MP for Rembau.

Khairy’s solicitation also drew the ire of Anwar’s wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail (PKR-Permatang Pauh) who questioned Khairy whether he was a clairvoyant with intimate knowledge of contents of the police report against Anwar, lodged by his former personal assistant, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, which is by now the most coveted piece of document in Malaysia and may fetch a very handsome lucre should it be auctioned off on eBay.

The Opposition leader and PKR president, perhaps the most resolute of wives far east of Hillary Clinton, was pallid in her riposte, beseeching that Anwar had tried hard to acquire a copy of the police report made against him by his former aide. "Despite three letters over two weeks, we have yet to get details," she said. “Why is Rembau asking for DNA from my husband? We don’t know about the details, even of the investigations. How can you ask DNA now? How do you know what’s contained in the report? The issue is not yet in court even but you ask for DNA. Do you know the contents of the report?” she demanded. Khairy’s disingenuous rejoinder: “The report is not provided because Anwar had not made a statement and was not present at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters as required.”

Later, parroting Anwar’s line of defence, Azmin huffed and harangued, questioning the integrity of the IGP and Attorney-General who the “same players" in Anwar's trial back in 1998 that deprived the PKR leader justice he deserved. Azmin also dissed Dr Mahathir’s role in the 1998 Anwar saga, deliberately rubbing Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir (Jerlun-BN), who, when the time for him to debate the Bill, shot this simple inquiry: "Did he sodomise or did he not? No need for four witnesses as required by Syariah law. We have modern technology and providing DNA as burden of proof is the same thing.”

When Mukhriz echoed his father’s insistence that Anwar was that “kind of person," the Opposition bloc hyperventilated and repeatedly challenged him to prove his case as the House degenerated into the semblance of a bar brawl. Mukhriz stubbornly refused to retract. "Don't even dream of asking me to retract my statement. We can't even ask for a bit of evidence (from Anwar). Earlier, you (opposition) issued a challenge and when I accept, you ask me to retract what I said. You want a challenger and here I am. The core of what the people want to know, and what I want to know as a representative of the people, is this question – did he sodomise or not?" was Mukhriz’s sermonic response.

At this time, there was still confusion on whether Anwar was actually picked up or arrested by police but Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Farid Wan Salleh characterised Anwar’s sudden incarceration as an “arrest”, one which the government defended on the basis that Anwar would had “failed to meet the 2pm deadline set by police”.

In his rendezvous with reporters at the Parliament lobby, Wan Farid elucidated why Anwar would have failed to meet the 2pm deadline: “Upon the completion of his interview with the ACA, Anwar was supposed to head to the city's police headquarters to have his statement taken regarding a sodomy report lodged by a former aide. However, he was heading home, so he couldn't possibly have made it on time (for the interview with the police). The police were just executing a warrant of arrest against Anwar.”

Wan Farid was adamantly in full retort mode when reporters asked why police could not wait until 2pm before executing the arrest: “What's the difference between 20 and 50 minutes? From the information I received, he voluntarily went to the police car and gave his full cooperation."

Also outside the House, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, the Information Minister who went toe-to-toe with Anwar in last night’s historic live TV debate, was still in his debating condition, answering critics who slammed his personal digs against the man of the moment instead of sticking to the crux of oil prices.

“I did not take potshots or make personal remarks on Anwar,” he insisted. “I only criticise his policy stance during the 1997 financial crisis when he was the Deputy Prime Minister. I talked about his policies and leadership record when questioning his credibility to strengthen my arguments. Personal attacks will be more about criticising his face, his clothes or his preferences.”

Nonetheless, the partisans forming the bulk of the crowd last night would have backed their respective leader as the one coming out smelling like a Calvin Klein eau de toilette. The lobby’s random reaction from BN and PR MPs to the Anwar-Ahmad Shabery debate was a blend of praise and putridness.

Was that frothing in his mouth when Ahmad Shabery declared that he was satisfied with his performance? “I erased the myth of Anwar as a great orator,” he intoned. Really? “It is not a question of who won or lost but that there was a platform to put our views forward.”

Although there was no clear winner in last night’s live TV debate, Anwar had the edge over Ahmad Shabery only because of the steely disposition he represented during the face-off. Ahmad Shabery’s focus over the week was to prepare for the performance of his life, prep his oratorical approach and not degenerate like a clown against Anwar’s mien, sophistication and coolness.

Ahmad Shabery was edged not on topic substance or points but to Anwar’s immense grace under pressure – while debating on full fluency, the back of this zeitgeist’s mind was undoubtedly pounded with the heavy thought of distressing police interrogation and inevitable incarceration – again. Would Ahmad Shabery be able to perform as well if he had that sword of Damocles hanging over his head?

News of Anwar’s arrest later hit Parliament House like a thunderbolt of lightning: Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail looked shell shocked, murmuring to the Press that she got a call from her husband that he was picked up by police and that “they had not been gentle". After she regained her composure in the MPs’ lounge, she was taken back to her Segambut home by aides while livid PKR MPs immediately left for the KL police contingent HQ, joined by their DAP and Pas comrades.

The national political temperature just spiked several degrees, crowds of PKR leaders, members and supporters have formed at Jalan Hang Tuah near the police HQ, forcing the cops to close access. The heat of this new intrigue is barely bearable. But the question remains: is there a place where anyone can sign up to emulate Anwar’s spiritedly racy career?

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