When Wan Azizah relinquished her parliamentary seat on 31 July 2008, I was quitely convinced that Anwar will be seated directly opposite the Prime Minister during the Budget tabling on 29 August 2008.
And I thought that Anwar will have to fight at his home turf and safe haven of Permatang Pauh. Not Kulim Bandar Baharu nor Bandar Tun Razak. With the whole government machinery concentrating to deny him victory in the by-election, other alternative venues would be almost suicidal.
In Permatang Pauh, Barisan Nasional cannot afford NOT to give victory to Anwar. Anything other than Anwar’s win will be condemned by the opposition and swiftly echoed by US and the international media as dirty politics and vote rigging. BN cannot even afford to allow low voters turnout, lest it will be termed as an attempt to deny bigger majority by Anwar. Hence the 81% voters turnout proved to be a blessing for BN.
A lot of money seemed to be spent to support PKR’s campaign in Permatang Pauh. Banners everywhere, The Masks (the ones with Anwar’s face on it), rally stages, sound systems, ample food, plenty of workers etc. Yet Anwar loudly claimed that he did not have enough funds to finance his campaign. What bull! (Thus making me wonder whether the rumours of outside financiers were indeed true).
Of course, BN spent a lot of money too, to their own peril.
But I truly respect Anwar’s careful timing of his return to Parliament. He wanted to make sure that he will be there inside the house to listen to the PM tabling the Budget. He will want the whole of Malaysia to see him live on TV during the Budget telecast as the opposition leader. I am sure that RTM will do their best to ensure minimal frontal view of the opposition leader during the Budget tabling. (But I cannot be so sure, as a lot of RTM employees are Anwar’s supporters too).
I think PM should drink a lot of water in the morning and take sufficient amount of lozenges. His frequent coughing during the Budget speech may be interpreted as a sign of nervousness, sitting in front of Anwar.
Most importantly, as the Opposition Leader, Anwar is entitled to post the maiden statement on the Budget IMMEDIATELY after the Budget speech. As the Parliament session will be adjourned throughout September during Ramadhan, Anwar will surely use this opportunity to attack the government’s economic failures, make clarion call for defection to Pakatan Rakyat, by invoking the spirit of Merdeka and Malaysia Day.
Then we wait for 16 September.