13 September 2016
On Monday 5 September 2016, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad did the unthinkable. He turned up at the High Court for Anwar Ibrahim’s filing of an interim injunction to stop the enforcement of the newly-passed National Security Council (NSC) Act. Mahathir shook hands with his former ally turned nemesis and both exchanged pleasantries. He wished Anwar well and prayed for the jailed opposition leader’s success. They talked for a good 45 minutes in the witness room — a long time indeed for two bitter foes.
It was the first time both had come into contact since September 1998, when Mahathir, then prime minister, unceremoniously sacked Anwar as his deputy and had him jailed for abuse of power and sodomy. Coming just three days after the 18th anniversary of that fateful event, the Mahathir–Anwar handshake was a ground-breaking ‘reunion’. Mahathir said he was not there to ‘talk about the past’ but to show support for Anwar’s bid against the NSC. He, like Anwar, views the NSC as unconstitutional and fears the act will give Prime Minister Najib Razak too much power.
But this is not the first time that Mahathir and Anwar have attempted to come back together. Earlier in March, Mahathir launched his Citizens’ Declaration ‘rainbow movement’ to mobilise public support against Najib, who is fighting for political survival due to the 1MDB scandal.
… Yang Razali Kassim is a Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 13/09/2016