Reformasi! Reformasi! Reformasi!
About a year after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis Malaysians witnessed a power struggle between two titans –Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who was Prime Minister at that time and his deputy Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Political observers and Malaysians alike watched with bated breath as the two men took turns accusing one another of wrongdoing. The public’s fascination culminated with Datuk Seri Anwar’s unceremonious removal from his position and his subsequent arrest. It is this political fallout that gave birth to a new political party – the People’s Justice Party (PKR). The younger generation are unlikely to be aware of this important event in Malaysia’s past. It had undoubtedly and inevitably changed the country’s political landscape. Despite his incarceration, Datuk Seri Anwar had managed to unite an opposition that had long floundered to one that was a force to be reckoned with under what was then known as Pakatan Rakyat or the People’s Alliance.
Fast forward some 20 years later, the two men are making global headlines once again. The public is of course enthralled by the new spectacle presented by Tun Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Seri Anwar. Many had thought their relationship was one that was irreparable. Yet, the two protagonists have proven that they will remain the mainstay of Malaysia’s longest running political saga. Last year Tun Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Seri Anwar decided to kiss and make up in a bid to show to the country they have moved on from their differences. There were of course stumbling blocks, namely who would lead the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan. Datuk Seri Anwar had long been the face and unifying force. But then last week the group unveiled its new line-up. If one did not know any better, one would think that Tun Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Seri Anwar are trying to hark back to the ‘good old days’ before they were foes.
So what of reformasi? Has Datuk Seri Anwar all but abandon his so-called democratic ideals simply to join forces with Tun Dr. Mahathir, who ruled Malaysia with an iron fist during his 22-years. Is it that easy for Datuk Seri Anwar to forgive and forget that he was imprisoned by his own boss? Therefore does it also mean he condones what was meted out to him along with other actions taken i.e. Ops Lalang by Malaysia’s strongman? Or are all this a political ploy? These are just some of many other questions that must be swirling in the minds of average Malaysians.
There is without a doubt that Tun Dr. Mahathir is completely in his element, at the helm and taking control once again. Key political figures such as Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, Datuk Seri Anwar and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin have all been relegated to obscurity. If anything Malaysia is simply reliving its past except this time Tun Dr. Mahathir is on the other side of the fence.