Posted by: Manjeet Krpalani on May 16, 2008
Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy prime ministser and finance minister of Malaysia, was in Bombay today. It’s his second visit to India in six months. He is friends with Dr. Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister and former finance minister, and says he has other friends here he has come to visit.
But he’s scored his points. Anwar, whose party won six of 13 Malaysian states in the March 8 elections, has been wooing the Indian community, a 9% minority in Malaysia that has been widely neglected and discriminated against by the current conservative ruling party. The state imprisoned a Hindu community leader, who is still in jail, angering the Indians, comprising mostly Hindus from Tamil Nadu who migrated to Malaysia decades ago. Anwar says his is the only multi-racial party in Malaysia - and he’s determined to win on the secular, liberal ticket.
So he’s here in India, in the homeland of his minority community. His aides say he likes India and its democratic values, and loves Indian food, which is served in his home. Anwar says this trip is not particularly special, that he makes similar trips to Singapore and Hong Kong and Indonesia and Davos, and always speaks to the press, because Malaysia does not have a free press, and people don’t get other opionions. This way, something is picked up by the Malaysian media, and on the internet, so Malays get another view about Anwar and Malaysia.
By portraying himself as an global, Asian leader, Anwar increases his stature within his own country. He says he is confident of taking over the government in Malaysia - internal regime change - in the fall.