Search

 

Cablegate: Anwar Shifts Gears, Not Goals, Say Aides

VZCZCXRO6876
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHKL #0991/01 3142324
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 092324Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1936
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2678
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0516
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KUALA LUMPUR 000991

SIPDIS

FOR EAP AND INR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2018
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM MY
SUBJECT: ANWAR SHIFTS GEARS, NOT GOALS, SAY AIDES

REF: KUALA LUMPUR 979 - INITIAL REACTION TO U.S.
ELECTION

Classified By: Political Counselor Mark D. Clark for reasons 1.4 (b and
d).

Summary and Comment
-------------------

1. (C) Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has shifted to a less
aggressive posture for now, but his goal remains bringing
down the UMNO-led government through parliamentary crossovers
prior to Deputy Prime Minister Najib becoming the next UMNO
party president and Prime Minister, according to top
officials in Anwar's Peoples Justice Party (PKR). Part of
Anwar's strategy entails reaching out to the "losers" in the
transition from Prime Minister Abdullah to Najib, including
UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh. The PKR officials
acknowledged that the government's September arrests of three
persons under the Internal Security Act (ISA) had sent an
effective warning to those considering switching their
support to Anwar. PKR officials and Anwar's lawyers assumed
the sodomy prosecution against Anwar would move forward, with
a trial phase likely beginning by January. The Opposition
was unlikely to support "superficial" reforms that UMNO would
try to rush through parliament as part of outgoing PM
Abdullah's legacy. The Ambassador met on October 30 with
Tengku Razaleigh, who complained about his inability to
compete in the UMNO nomination process due to money politics
and contended that the next UMNO president (Najib) would not
necessarily become the next Prime Minister.

2. (C) Comment: We currently are witnessing a different
tone and pace in the struggle between the Opposition and UMNO
following Anwar's unrealized September deadline and the rapid
consolidation of UMNO support behind Najib as the next Prime
Minister. While PKR's rationale for wanting to head-off
Najib remains in place, Anwar has lost political momentum for
the moment and seems to face increasingly long odds in
securing future crossovers. Anwar's ability to attract the
"losers" from the Abdullah-Najib transition remains
theoretical. End Summary and Comment.

Anwar's Less Aggressive Posture
-------------------------------

3. (C) Polcouns met separately with PKR Information Chief
Tian Chua and PKR Vice President Sivarasa Rasiah on November
3 and 5, respectively. Both PKR officials acknowledged that
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has shifted to a lower key
approach since the passage of Anwar's public September 16
deadline to bring down PM Abdullah's government through the
crossover of 30 or more government MPs. Compared with
September, Anwar is now more focused on consolidating the
Opposition People's Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat), which
encompasses three parties with often disparate political
views: PKR, the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party
(DAP), and the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS). As the
formal Opposition leader in Parliament, Anwar is devoting
attention to Pakatan's actions in parliament and guiding
Opposition MPs, most of whom are sitting in the body for the
first time.

Crossover Goal Unchanged
------------------------

4. (C) Despite his less aggressive public posture, Anwar's
goal remains bringing down the UMNO-led government through
parliamentary crossovers prior to Deputy Prime Minister Najib
Tun Razak becoming the next UMNO party president and Prime
Minister, Tian Chua and Sivarasa stated. The time horizon
has shifted from December to March 2009, in line with the
shift in the UMNO party elections, at which time Najib is set
to become UMNO president uncontested. PKR officials
reiterated that Anwar and PKR remain focused on preempting
Najib's takeover if possible, because they believe Najib
would invoke authoritarian measures to scuttle the Opposition
before the next national elections. In the months ahead, PKR
would look for opportunities to weaken support for Najib and
the government, for example by criticizing GOM measures in
the face of a possible dramatic downturn in the economy
following the global financial crisis, or by using new
information linking Najib to scandals, like the Altantuya
case and the Eurocopter purchase. (Comment: Anwar and other
Opposition leaders have taken up such issues in Parliament
over the past few weeks. On November 4, Anwar led a walk-out
of Opposition MPs to protest Najib's refusal to allow
questions during his presentation of revised budget figures.
End Comment.)

Attracting the "Losers"
-----------------------

5. (C) Anwar does not have enough ethnic Malay MPs ready to
join the Opposition, according to both Tian Chua and
Sivarasa, without which the Opposition faces unacceptable
risks of a harsh government backlash justified on the basis
of Malay nationalism. Anwar reportedly hopes to attract
disaffected UMNO leaders and MPs who are "losers" in the
current transition from Abdullah to Najib; most prominent
among these is veteran UMNO leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Talks with Razaleigh remain inconclusive because Razaleigh
continues to insist on the prospective position of Prime
Minister, while PKR estimates that Razaleigh could secure the
crossover of only four or five UMNO MPs (see notes below from
the Ambassador's recent meeting with Razaleigh). Anwar is
also maintaining contact with PM Abdullah at this stage,
primarily through son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin, Tian Chua
said. Whether members of Abdullah's circle would consider
crossing over to Anwar remained an open question.

ISA as Warning to MPs
---------------------

6. (C) The two PKR officials acknowledged that the
government's September arrests of three persons -- a
journalist, an Opposition MP and blogger Raja Petra -- under
the Internal Security Act (ISA) had sent an effective warning
to those MPs considering switching support to Anwar. (let's
mention Petra's release today) (Comment: In early October,
UMNO MP Nur Jazlan told Polcouns that the ISA arrests had
been "very successful" in achieving UMNO's objective of
intimidating MPs who had considered joining with Anwar. End
Comment.)

Sodomy Trial Will Remain a Factor
---------------------------------

7. (C) Sankara Nair, a prominent attorney for Anwar, told us
on November 5 that, regardless of maneuvers in the current
Sessions Court, it only a matter of time before the
government shifted Anwar's sodomy case to the High Court, a
more favorable venue for the prosecution. Sivarasa, who also
serves as one of Anwar's lawyers, believed that the trial
phase of the sodomy case would begin in earnest by January.
Neither Sankara nor Sivarasa believed the government would
drop the case.

Opposition Unlikely to Support Abdullah's Reforms
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. (C) The Prime Minister's circle -- through Khairy -- has
approached Anwar regarding support for judicial reform
measures that would be presented in Parliament soon as part
of Abdullah's parting legacy, according to Sivarasa and Tian
Chua. The Opposition, however, was unlikely to support these
measures because they did not represent meaningful changes.
The Opposition believed, for example, the proposed changes to
the Anti-Corruption Commission would leave the body under
firm executive control. Following the resignation of legal
reform Minister Zaid Ibrahim, Nazri Aziz, de facto Minister
for parliamentary affairs, led the judicial reform
discussions in Parliament, but he lacked credibility.

Anwar and the U.S. Presidential Election
----------------------------------------

9. (U) Following his initial remarks of November 5 (reftel),
Anwar has continued to comment generally positively on
Senator Obama's victory in the U.S. presidential election.
Time Magazine highlighted Anwar's remarks on President-elect
Obama as the first among those of only 11 prominent world
personalities. Anwar wrote that, "In Obama's victory are
sown the seeds of great expectations that a truly new chapter
will be written in the history of the world." Anwar publicly
claimed he had been in contact with Senator Obama.

Ambassador Calls on Razaleigh
-----------------------------

10. (C) The Ambassador met on October 30 with Tengku
Razaleigh, who, as the only challenger to DPM Najib for the
UMNO presidency, had yet to garner a single UMNO division
nomination (he now has one). Casting himself as a reformer,
Razaleigh said that he wished to bring greater democracy and
transparency to UMNO, but that he could not compete in the
current nomination race in the face of engrained corruption
and money-politics. Razaleigh said that Najib's coming to
power would allow former Prime Minister Mahathir to regain
substantial influence within the government. Razaleigh
indicated his relations with Mahathir, his former political
rival, remained strained.

11. (C) While Razaleigh conceded that Najib would win the
UMNO contest, he stressed several times to the Ambassador
that the next UMNO president would not necessarily become the
next Prime Minister, but did not further explain this remark.
Razaleigh speculated that there now existed grounds for PM
Abdullah and Anwar Ibrahim to work together, for example on
reform measures. Razaleigh thought that Khairy Jamaluddin
currently acted as the go-between for Abdullah and Anwar.
Razaleigh acknowledged, as he has publicly, that he continues
contact with opposition politicians, but he did not otherwise
signal he planned to leave UMNO.

KEITH

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC