Just a year back, Anwar was regarded as the Prime
Minister's heir apparent. He was a man
who could do no wrong. But over the past
one month, it became clear that he
had found himself on the wrong
The unprecedented sequence of events
last week which saw the sacking of Anwar as Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and then as an Umno member has
stunned the general population.
Equally astounding were the details in four affidavits filed in the High Court implicating Anwar in sexual misconduct and of being a threat to national security.
The allegations of sexual misconduct include 15 counts of sodomising an unnamed
man, illicit sex with a number of women,
and trying to seduce the wife of a businessman on a working trip to
Several of the alleged sexual trysts
took place at an apartment in Tivoli
Villa in affluent Bangsar.
The affidavits were tendered to support
the detention of Magnum Corporation
Berhad public affairs director Datuk S.
Nallakaruppan at Bukit Aman.
Malaysians can be forgiven for being in
shock because the events that have
unfolded have been dramatic and the information they received has been equally
Last Wednesday, even as Anwar walked
into the Prime Minister's office to
attend the weekly Cabinet meeting, there
was already talk that his career had
come to an end.
When the Cabinet meeting ended at 11am,
Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar
walked off together in conversation. It was to be Anwar's last Cabinet meeting.
Despite repeated denials of a rift
between the two men, Anwar's fall
from grace became apparent over
the past two months.
The events leading to Anwar being stripped of his powers are now academic.
What is clear is that Dr Mahathir has
obtained the support of all state Umno
liaison chiefs for the decision.
The next question would be who would
fill the two ministerial positions left vacant and whether there is a need for a Cabinet reshuffle.
Under the Federal Constitution, there is
no requirement for a Deputy Prime Minister.
Dr Mahathir himself has said it was likely
that he would not appoint a new Deputy Prime Minister but he needed a Finance Minister.
Saying he would be Acting Finance Minister, Dr Mahathir added that he hoped to find somebody willing.
Several names have been mentioned, but a strong possibility is Tun Daim Zainuddin, now Special Functions Minister.
It might be burdensome for Daim, who
also heads the National Economic Action
Council, to take a third job, but no one
can dispute his capabilities and
Over recent months, Daim has been
involved in many economic considerations
affecting the country and in recovery efforts.
The need to fill the post is naturally urgent as Parliament will meet next month to discuss the Budget.
Also of concern is the impact of Anwar's
sacking on party unity. A period of
healing is needed at this point.
Talk of a general election seems remote
at this juncture, with more pressing
matters at hand, but others have still not dismissed the possibility of snap
Dr Mahathir has correctly pointed out that in many countries, ministers are
sacked every now and then.
As recent as last month, New Zealand
Prime Minister Jenny Shipley fired her
deputy, Winston Peters, who also held
the Treasurer's post.
President Boris Yeltsin went further. He sacked Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko as well as the rest of the government.
The shock over Anwar's removal from
power can be attributed to the former
student leader's personality and rise in
Although there had been rumours of his downfall, Malaysians were confused by persistent denials from
party leaders, including Anwar himself
who later explained that until the last
minute, he was hoping for some kind of a
It remains to be seen what kind of
action will follow but the coming days
The nation has watched the expression of support for Dr Mahathir and the
unhappiness of supporters of Anwar.
There has been some degree of
uneasiness. Malaysians hope that
the situation will cool down, and
the constant reminders by Umno
leaders to members to remain calm
has been reassuring.
There is a need to ensure that the
government machinery does not
come to a halt with the political developments in the country as we brace ourselves to tackle the economic