Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 25, 2008
Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and now the top opposition figure, was in Hong Kong yesterday to speak at a CLSA investor conference. For years, Anwar was a loyal lieutenant of Mahathir Mohamad (notorious for blaming the Jews for Malaysia’s woes during the financial crisis of the late 90s). Then he and Dr. M had a very public falling out and Anwar landed in jail for several years before the country’s top court ordered him freed. Back in politics after winning a by-election last month, Anwar now presents himself as a uniter-not-a-divider reform advocate. “I am regularly called a Jewish agent or an American agent, but I think those are the times of the past,” he told the CLSA audience, according to someone who was in the crowd. He added hopefully “we are moving to a time of pluralistic, multicultural world. This movement causes me to be an optimist.”
So, to employ the old cliche, is Anwar Ibrahim good for the Jews? Maybe. But Anwar is a politician who knows how to cater his message to his audience, telling Westerners one thing and Malaysians another. One small example: I interviewed him in his living in room in KL ten years ago, just as everything was hitting the fan between him and Dr. M. With the net already starting to close around him, Anwar sat with me and a few other foreign reporters and complained that the government was employing Gestapo tactics against him. The next day, he spoke at a public rally and complained in a similar way about the persecution he was enduring. Except this time, he said the government was employing Mossad tactics against him. Funny how the the phrase changed when he was talking to a local crowd and not Western reporters.