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New Beginnings: A Word With Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim

Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim reveals his aspirations for the new Malaysia. Words by Rubin Khoo.

From prisoner to imminent Prime Minister of Malaysia, there is no doubt that the past decade has been an incredible journey for Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. To commemorate his 71st birthday which falls on August 10, here are some excerpts from his recent interview with Prestige Malaysia.

On overcoming his past struggles:

“It definitely wasn’t easy for me and the family because we suffered a great deal. You can imagine that it was very difficult because we were together, working as a team, but then when he came with the support for our reform agenda, I thought why should I harbour any suspicion because the country is at stake and we need to do it now. If we had failed, the nation would truly have fallen into despair.”

On spending over a decade behind bars:

“I didn’t expect that it would go to that length. I didn’t expect to be assaulted in that manner; I didn’t expect that I would be jailed for so long… Those were 10-and-a-half rotten years. Of course it is tough, not a bed of roses. It is meant to denigrate man. It is a place to condemn man.”

On teaming up with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for GE14:

“Given the situation he was in, maligned and marginalised by the media, he became more open to understanding the workings of the opposition. At first I had to endure the dreadful experience and later Mahathir had to endure those insults. We have come together now and it has shown some results. I think for him it was important to protect his legacy and for me, after a long time, to try and implement reforms I believe in. I think it will work.”

On the birth of the Reformasi movement:

“I said no, why should we surrender to these semi-literate people. Perhaps, a little arrogance was at play. None of them were prepared to have a debate, none of them were prepared to speak to the urban crowd. They were playing to the gallery and exploiting the poor. We believed in the cause. We could articulate it better and we had the tenacity and the conviction.”

On why his name continues to shrouded with tales of conspiracy:

“Frankly, I don’t know. From what I gather from others, it is because I am a true reformer and the corrupt has no place. Either they change or they cannot be accommodated. There is no question about it.”

On rumours about a growing tension between himself and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad:

“That was a long time ago with a much younger Mahathir and a much younger Anwar.”

For the full story, pick up a copy of the Prestige Malaysia July 2018 issue.

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