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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

THE `NATIONAL CONSENSUS' DRAMA

By Salleh Said Keruak

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Pakatan Rakyat has decided to retract its offer of national consensus with the Barisan Nasional (BN) following his conviction for sodomy last week.

Speaking at a ceramah in Kajang on Monday night, he said that it was better for PR to fight against BN than to work with it because of the ruling coalition's ‘cruelty’towards it.

“Before this, we decided to talk about religion, corruption and race. And we called for a national consensus.”

“But no more now. We fight. Why? Insolence. This is about the judiciary, and not Anwar,” he told his supporters.

In January 2014, Anwar Ibrahim talked about a national consensus. Initially, the talk was about a unity government but when it was apparent that PAS and DAP would not support the idea of a unity government it was watered down to just a national consensus.

The meeting that the Secretary-Generals of PAS and PKR had with Umno Vice-President Zahid Hamidi in London over Christmas of 2013 was to explore the possibility of a unity government. DAP was not invited to this secret meeting, for obvious reasons, because DAP would never agree to such an arrangement. Hence themove had to be between PAS-PKR and Umno butexcluding DAP.

The problem arose when the PAS President, HadiAwang, who was also in London, refused to join the unity government talks. This was an indication that PAS was not interested in the move, as confirmed by PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat who said that such a possibility is out of the question.

Whether it was for purposes of unity government, national reconciliation or national consensus (Anwar appears to ding-dong about what it is supposed to be) is no longer relevant. Anwar has just announced that whatever in the end was going to happen is no longer going to happen. And the reason why it is no longer going to happen is very clear -- because Anwar has been convicted for sodomy.

This makes it apparent that Anwar’s olive branch and peace talk offer was for only one purpose -- and that was to pre-empt the sodomy 2 appeal. Anwar was hoping that by engaging Umno in peace talks he could convince the government to uphold his acquittal and keep him out of jail. Now that he has been found guilty, Anwar no longer sees the need to continue the peace talks with Umno, or what he calls a national consensus.

The so-called peace talks or national consensus was not about the nation or the interests of the country. It was about Anwar. And, according to his own confession, Anwar no longer sees the need to make peace with Umno since he has now been found guilty of sodomy. 

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