Malaysia Dateline

Stockholm Syndrome of Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Dr Mahathir: How The Lion Kings Met

Coma is a state of zero wakefulness. Some are permanent, others are transitory . Either way, it is a near death experience. Only that your soul—–unlike what others may say—-do not float up to the sky, looking down at your frail body.

Coma is dangerous precisely because if the medula oblongata, or, frontal lobe of the brain, is damaged, the person who recovers could yet develop post traumatic serious disorder (PTSD), which is marked by extremities in emotions.

Anwar Ibrahim recovered from his coma of September 2 1998 in tact. But he also acquired something or nothing short of a Stockholm Syndrome: he is empathetic to his oppressor(s). Not through numerous acts of transactional forgiveness, but deep understanding of the pain of the Other.

Strangely, this has now included a deep, and very empathetic understanding—–deserving or otherwise—–of Najib too. How ?

On the night of May 9th, against all risks, Anwar Ibrahim took the call from Najib. Since Tun Dr Mahathir was not the seventh PM until the next day, such a call could have been seen as a “scheme” to corral more Members of Parliament in PKR, UMNO and PAS, to create a new order.

Be that as it may, Anwar Ibrahim, perhaps against the advice of all his advisors, took the call anyway. And, as events have it, he told Najib, “I am technically still in prison; the one you need to call is Tun Dr Mahathir.” To which Anwar related to Channel News Asia in Singapore, there was “then a long silence”.

Now, having taken one call, there was another 24 hours, for Anwar to take more calls. After all, it was not just Tun Dr Mahathir and Tun Daim Zainuddin who were calling on him, in the hospital, as it seemed, but other leaders of Pakatan Harapan too.

During that vital interlude, Anwar could have got Najib—-perhaps even Zahid Hamidi—–to rearrange the political furniture so to speak. After all, PKR had emerged as the one party with most seats, 50 as it was, and still is.

But, having gone through the pain of being punched witless, Anwar Ibrahim, refused to yield to the baser instinct, this despite the cantakerous whispers, that were telling him that he should be the one to be the “seventh” rather than the “eighth” Prime Minister.

In that sense, the acute coma faced by Anwar, as all things divinely sanctioned, albeit without the wisdom of mere mortal, became the tipping point of Malaysian history on May 10 2018.

Anwar, appealed to his higher inner discipline, and strategic patience—–what Muslims could perhaps called Jihad Al Akbar, the war against one’s inner desires—–to focus on the reform agenda of Pakatan Harapan, rather than his ambition alone.

As a medical doctor, it would not be amissed on Tun Dr Mahathir, whose wife Dr Siti Hasmah is also a medical doctor, to understand the trauma of the coma.

Perhaps helped by their own reverse Stockholm Syndrome, it is they who now believe that they owe it to Anwar to honor the promise to allow a transition to take place in “nineteen months,” as P Gunasegaran matter-a-factly put it.

Regardless of who has a deeper form of post traumatic disorder, which can be incurable, Malaysians have become over dosed on politics. They want the prices of goods to come down, and their income to go up. Anything less is unacceptable.

Tun Dr Mahathir knows this mentality well, which is why prior to the Blue Wave of 2004, which catapulted Abdullah Badawi to a super majority, the former was savvy enough to step down.

Malaysia, as things are, have had one “tsunami” too many since 1998. And, the voters are not so much fatigued, as they are increasingly fastidious on whom they want to elect.

By 2023, if the bench of players continue to include a bunch of grey eminences, especially when Malaysia is 15 years way from the wholesale process of aging, many Malaysians, including youths who could barely grow a stubble or contain their teenage giggles, will probably storm there proverbial Bastille that is Putrajaya.

Allowing Anwar Ibrahim, to be the future successor of Mahathir, may be chafed at by many. Especially those who want the process to fail. Or, aborted.

But in a world of sub optimal outcomes, even when the full fury of the market forces are unleashed to the utmost extent, having a sympathetic, thoughtful leader, who has seen through it all, and held the cold iron bars of the solitary prison, would not be a bad thing: at least he has seen hell to not want any Malaysians to experience it.

Tun Dr Mahathir, too, prior to May 9, has seen the contour of this purgatory of built by Najib.

And, one by one, Tun Dr Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim are now revisiting the past, like two wounded Lion Kings, each licking the other’s wounds, to collectively take the whole pride of Malaysians to a new high in the plains of Serengeti.

And, where are the UMNO and PAS wilderbeest awaiting to cross the River Mara that is Malaysian Anto Corruption Commission (MACC) ? They are there.

But not until one has started the stampede, the rest won’t follow. When they do, many a politicians who have been tainted by 1MDBs and mini 1MDBs, even the crocodile hides of Hermes, will come to rue.