Friday June 22, 2012
Called to account again
By BARADAN KUPPUSAMY
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has to fight on a new front as yet another ghost from the past comes back to haunt him — and his ambitions.
THE past has returned to haunt Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as he prepares to battle the Barisan Nasional for what might be, if he fails in his bid, his final battle in a long, chequered career of many ups, downs and near misses.
In October 1999, the then assistant Governor of Bank Negara (Datuk) Abdul Murad Khalid alleged in a sworn statutory declaration that Anwar controlled 20 “master accounts” of some RM3bil.
Abdul Murad also listed in his statutory declaration some of the people who he alleged had received cash from the “master accounts” to settle their debts with financial institutions, to finance their activities and to fund start-up NGOs and international institutions.
Now, 13 years after the statutory declaration, Abdul Murad reopened the issue by making a statement in which he said he was prepared to cooperate with the authorities over the allegations.
“I have given the testimony asked by the authorities. And I am also prepared to give my cooperation to the authorities, if necessary,” said Abdul Murad in response to media queries.
Several groups, including non-governmental organisations, had lodged police reports and had broached the “master accounts” allegations once again, urging Anwar to provide an explanation.
Anwar had denied the “master accounts” story when it surfaced in 1999.
In responding to a charge last week by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to respond to Abdul Murad’s charges and reveal the nature of the accounts, Anwar turned the tables instead on Muhyiddin.
In a classic political tactic, Anwar said he would reveal his accounts if Muhyiddin unveiled all of his accounts.
Muhyiddin rebutted Anwar’s challenge, saying he was not the person in the limelight for allegedly controlling 20 “master accounts”.
“He should clarify as this affects his credibility,” Muhyiddin said.
Abdul Murad’s statutory declaration was investigated by the then ACA but filed away as “investigated and filed”.
Since then, many political events had taken place.
In 2003, then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad retired.
Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who succeeded him, called for a snap election in March 2004 and won on the back of promises that he would introduce the reforms that the country needed.
In 2004, the Federal Court overturned Anwar’s sodomy conviction, freeing him to be in politics again.
Then in 2008, he stood in the Permatang Pauh by-election under Pakatan, a seat his wife had vacated for him.
Anwar went on to become the Opposition Leader and is leading Pakatan in the battle with Barisan.
But Anwar’s ambition is hampered by a past that will not go away.
From a sex video that featured a man who looks like him to further sodomy allegations (acquitted again) and the Abdul Murad allegations, Anwar has to battle ghosts from his past that keep resurfacing.
He rose from a fiery student leader in the 1970s to enter politics at Dr Mahathir’s invitation. By the time of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, he was Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister – one step away from his cherished dream.
As Finance Minister, his response to the crisis was what the classic textbook taught – let the market kill off the inefficient and wasteful.
He allowed the exchange rate to soar, companies to go under and prices of everyday goods to rise until Dr Mahathir put a stop to it by sacking him and putting in place a regime of financial controls.
But Anwar, often described as an incorrigible optimist, built a shattered political career on the back of a loose coalition of the secular, the Chinese DAP, the Islamic PAS and his own PKR.
In mounting a challenge to Barisan in the next elections, Anwar is again haunted by his past when the allegations of the “master accounts” revisited him.