Last week, the media pressed Anwar for his reaction on talk of his impending resignation.
That prompted a smiling Anwar to ask :
“I cannot understand why people keep on
talking about my resignation.''
This is not the first time the deputy Umno president has had to answer such
The press has also asked Anwar questions
about his purported differences with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir
On Aug 7, he laughed off a similar question: “These rumours (have been) going on for some time. I don't know whether this is good news or disappointing, but there is no basis (for them).''
The foreign media and the rumour-mongers, however, have not left him alone despite his recent renewed pledge of support for Dr Mahathir in Penang.
For the first time, in fact, he announced the state's entire 11 Umno divisions' endorsement for Dr Mahathir to
remain in the party presidency in next year's party polls.
The talk of Anwar's impending
resignation could have surfaced
following reports in the latest editions of Asiaweek and Time
Under the heading “Fading From the
Picture?'', Asiaweek drew on the
differences between the country's top two leaders and Anwar's supposedly declining influences.
The report also claimed that Anwar was no longer the unquestioned
The US-based Time, on other hand,
reported that “Anwar is being forced to toe the line or risk
a dangerous showdown with his
Under the heading “Heir Unapparent'', the Far Eastern Economic Review also ran a similar story on the political future of Anwar.
At the same time, there are on going court cases relating to the book 50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Be Prime
These magazines, which enjoy a
reasonably big circulation in Malaysia, have naturally created an interest on the subject.
Most of these stories have plenty of
backgrounder but little substance.
This could be attributed to the
magazines' eagerness to come out
with the story fast. Competition
is, after all, the name of the
The trouble, however, is that when one
is speculative, it means one is
Sometimes, it is best to wait for
something more substantial and
definite. In journalism, one
must be responsible.
Press freedom does not mean one can
print stories based on hearsay and adopt
the print-and be-dammed approach.
No journalist worth his salt would,
however, dismiss anything political.
Politics is, after all, the art of the
What is ironic is that these were the
same magazines which put Anwar on the pedestal but which now seem as quick to write him off.
The attention on Malaysian politics by foreigners is the result of the country's strong leadership.
Unlike Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and
Thailand, the question of a change in
the country's leadership is unthinkable.
Support for Dr Mahathir has been strong,
judging from the reaction of his current nationwide tours.
Cynics who dismiss these large turnouts
as merely party loyalists and government
servants should have attended the
Bangsar carnival two weeks ago.
It was not the size of the crowd that
was impressive but the spontaneous cheering for Dr Mahathir at the constituency, an affluent area known to often question those in authority.
The hype over the question of Umno
succession could also be because the Umno election would be held next year. Thus, the intense interest in the future of our top leaders.
As in any democracies, elections mean
contests. In the run-up, political manoeuvrings and under-currents can be
There is also speculation that the
general election is imminent although the Barisan Nasional's mandate only ends in April 2000.
Most Barisan component parties have
directed their members to get ready for
With the dissolution of the Sabah
legislative assembly in March,
many believe that the general election may be held simultaneously with the Sabah state elections.
Public figures have little private life.
Dr Mahathir and Anwar can expect
themselves to continue to be subjected
to public speculation.
Every single sentence they utter and
movement they make will be interpreted
in a thousand ways, according to the motives of the speculator.
And in this country, there are plenty of
unnamed political analysts. Regional
magazines ofen quote many such Hong
Kong-based experts who dare to comment
on Malaysian affairs with a
It doesn't matter if they don't know
where Cherok To'kun or Kubang Pasu
are. All that they say is often considered sound views fit for printing.