Waking Up to a New Tomorrow
Interview with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim
Star, September 4, 2004
HIS health has taken a toll on him and physically, he
is a shadow of the person he used to be. But Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has not
given up on politics. In an interview with JOCELINE TAN, he spoke about coming
home after six years, his gratitude to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi whom
he calls ďPM Abdullah,Ē and his political outlook.
Q. You woke up in your own bed this morning after so many
years away. It must have been a really nice feeling?
A. I woke up very early, as usual. I didnít have much
sleep, just a few hours. Because of all the strain, I had some pain so my wife
had some difficulties. I was joking with her ... having been used to sleeping
alone, now that I have somebody beside me, I cannot sleep well.
Q. What has it been like, coming home?
A. Itís great of course. Itís difficult for people
who have not undergone the same experience to realise what itís like to be
six years away, to be with back the family, the children, to be back home and
The children woke up, realised (I was at home) and they
all rushed down to see me, the usual commotion. Itís been really great.
Q. Your feeling the moment you realise the judges had
decided for you?
A. I was very relieved, happy. It was difficult initially
to reconcile the fact that judiciary is as it is known now. I was very, very
pleased, thatís why I made this spontaneous remark to thank the two judges.
God bless them!
I know the limitations, the pressure. It was not all that
simple. This I could sense after listening to their arguments, to try and seek
a compromise, to avoid all the political attacks we had made.
Q. An emotional moment for you?
A. When I saw my children, my Izzah crying, I was unable
to hold back.
Q. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been instrumental
in creating a climate for change.
A. Itís true, I admit it, that it wouldnít have been
possible if not for PM Abdullah, if he had maintained the sort of controls in
But it is not easy because sometimes you say you want
independence of the judiciary but the judiciary is still in the old frame of
mind. So itís a difficult process. But I am very grateful that he (Abdullah)
has decided not to interfere.
Q. Your feelings about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad?
A. I donít bear any malice towards him. Itís done, it
cannot be undone. Yes, some of the things heís done have been good for the
country but I maintain that he destroyed the institution of civil society
which I value most.
Q. You must have thought long and hard about your
political future. Will your return from Germany mark the start of active
A. Iím actively discussing politics right now
(laughed). I have to listen and discuss not only with Keadilan leaders but
with DAP, PAS, NGOs, activists. We have to have a broad spectrum of
I do not discount engaging Umno leaders in this for the
benefit and sake of the country. Itís not a question of rejoining Umno but
Iím referring to working together for the betterment of the country,
economically and socially.
Q. The Prime Minister has initiated changes, reforms you
had talked about. Will that provide common ground for your return to Umno
since there are no permanent friends of foes in politics?
A. But there are permanent principles in politics. This
is what we need to contend with. I agree we donít harbour enmity. Thereís
no bad blood, even with reckless exchanges between me and PM Abdullah all
these years since I became active in politics in 1982.
Q. But both of you had once been in opposite camps?
A. Yes, we were contenders for some similar positions. We
were rivals but very civil about it. This is something people should learn,
that you can have differences, even rivalry, but be civil about it.
PM Abdullah has won total support from so many people in
the country but that does not warrant us to be totally within that party
We have to broaden the political horizon of this
countryóyou agree therefore you have to be in this party. You disagree
therefore you have to be in the opposition and you have to be smashed. This
has to change.
Q. PAS gave the cold shoulder to Keadilan and had even
written off the party. Do you look forward to working with them again?
A. There have been differences, petty squabbles but they
are still close to Keadilan. They are a big party and many of my friends are
there. I look beyond all this.
I believe in this opposition. And we have to engage
civilly with the DAP and there are exchanges between younger party leaders. I
donít think it should affect co-operation among the opposition.
Q. Your daughter Nurul Izzah is seen as someone who will
follow in your footsteps?
A. These young people, they have their own minds. She
decided who her husband would be. Who am I to interfere? She is still young,
intelligent, in some ways more intelligent than me in college.
She has had good exposure but she has to be put through
the mill. I am open about it. I leave it to her. I am free about it. They
decide and I will give them the support.
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