‘Anwar’s presiding of conversion at Klang mosque does not detract him from duties as PM’

Much has been written and said about Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, including the recent conversion to Islam of a Hindu at the Ar-Rahimiah mosque in Klang, which Anwar presided.

There have been claims by certain quarters that millions of Malaysians are uneasy about the actions of the prime minister. Some say it was distasteful and improper for Anwar to be involved in the proceedings.

I believe Anwar was merely carrying out his duty as a good Muslim. If he had refused, others would ‘hang him’ for his actions.

Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia’s (Perkim) Klang chapter chairman, Hushim Salleh, said the event happened spontaneously, at his request, when the prime minister visited the mosque.

Anwar had earlier visited the families of the victims of the recent aircraft crash, at the nearby Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital.

While some may argue that they had never seen previous prime ministers doing the same, Anwar’s actions at the Ar-Rahimiah mosque, logically, would not affect his duty as a prime minister.

He is still meeting investors to rebuild the economy, and drumming up support for his Madani economic ideas. He continues his relentless pursuit against corruption, and push for good governance.

We should note that the prime minister had not coerced the man to convert. He was only involved in the ceremony that took place after Friday prayers. He also did not do it during his working hours.

But some claimed that the ‘conversion’ was orchestrated to enable Anwar drum up support from the Malays, to make him look “more Islamic”.

But was this really the case?

While there are bigger and more serious matters to focus on, we must take the time to understand Anwar.

Those from the 1970s will always see Anwar in a different light.

He is a product of the premier Universiti Malaya, and a student activist.

As an alumni of the same university during that era, Anwar is well-known for his oratory skills and ultra-Malay stand.

He did not hesitate to take up issues and speak his mind at the Speaker’s Corner, at the Arts faculty.

Everyone would gather to listen to him, even if it meant missing lectures and tutorials.

He has always been charismatic and passionate about issues related to the poor. Anwar was also the president of the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement.

The bulk of graduates from Universiti Malaya in the 1970s later formed the core of our civil service.

The heads of departments and secretaries-general of ministries back then knew him well. Anwar found it easy to work with them when he served the Cabinet previously. This made Anwar a resounding success in Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Cabinet.

The generation that knew him back then also viewed him as an ultra-Malay.

As Anwar then was with Umno, the non-Malays distrusted him. However, the scenario today is different. He is the leader of a multiracial political party.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Anwar’s popularity grew to the point that he became a threat to those within his party. Subsequently, he spent many years behind bars.

The years Anwar spent in prison saw him lose the support of the Malays in the civil service, Umno, and the general public.

Those who started voting in 2000, however, see Anwar in a different light.

He has been painted as someone who “cannot be trusted” or “has low moral values”.

Many do not know the Anwar of the 1970s – a man who changed the face of Malay society, as we see it today, in the education system and the civil service.

Younger Malaysians see him as someone Dr Mahathir created.

This is where we see Anwar trying to create the ‘real Anwar’. His charisma and mesmerising oratory skills are impeccable. He has shown that he cares for the poor and not rich tycoons.

He has only been in office for nine months, and must be given the chance to reset our economy.

Anwar has the energy and capability to ensure we have zero corruption, and save this country from the corrupt, and religious bigots.

It’s time we focused on the real issues, and not make mountains out of molehills.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13. Main image by Prime Minister’s Office.

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