It is something that perhaps many Malaysians who experienced the politics of 1998 thought they will never see – arch-enemies former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim shaking hands and being friendly, real friendly.
Lawyers for Liberty’s Eric Paulsen said it best when he tweeted, “Now, I think I have seen it all.”
Another tweeted that nothing is impossible after such a meeting, while some said the world has finally come to an end. Some played Adele’s ‘Hello’ song and some were convinced that “Melayu mudah lupa”, as said by Mahathir a long time ago.
Some of the more romantic ones said now that Anwar had shaken hands with Mahathir, they and their loved ones too should bury the hatchet.
Bear in mind, Mahathir sacked Anwar on September 2, 1998 – 18 years and 3 days ago – in what some describe as the most inhumane way by alleging the latter was a homosexual and stripping him of all posts overnight. Anwar was then the only person destined to take over Mahathir as the PM. For years, Mahathir kept repeating what he said about Anwar and he has yet to apologise.
And from day one, Anwar fought back hard and long, despite being jailed and beaten blue and black, and until today, Anwar has never backed down from saying it was all a political conspiracy by Mahathir. He then came back at Mahathir with the strongest opposition Malaysia ever saw.
From then on, Anwar became the uniting force of the opposition which managed to garner a tsunami wave over BN in 2008. Every time Anwar managed to be free from jail, he was a force to be reckoned with by BN and Umno.
The successors of Mahathir then knew very well, that the conspiracy which Mahathir had placed upon Anwar must be continued and thus, more dirt were dug up leading to a second sodomy case, for which Anwar is being jailed for now.
Meanwhile, Mahathir had crossed swords with the present Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and decided that enough was enough and that he would now join the opposition to take the PM down, and save the country in what he says is a betrayal of the rakyat in corruption.
Many said Mahathir was reaping what he has sown, but Mahathir seemed determined. And Mahathir has always been a man who gets what he wants – by hook or by crook.
Yet, when Mahathir and his followers joined hands with the opposition, Anwar and his family kept their distance, not acknowledging Mahathir completely, although they agreed that their objective was the same – to topple the PM.
And many of Anwaristas insisted that Mahathir must never be forgiven for what he has done to Anwar, never mind the same objective.
The setting was perfect as Anwar was at a hearing to file an application to challenge the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 – an Act which concentrates all powers in the hands of the Prime Minister.
Thus, it is obvious now, with a broken opposition and Anwar in prison, the two men who once led Malaysia when it was at its most successful political period, decided that they must let bygones be bygones, if only to dispel the doubts in the minds of their followers and create an opposition strong enough to take on Barisan Nasional and Umno in the coming General Election.
This is also a handshake that sends a message to Umno and BN people that Anwar and Mahathir are willing to do anything to bring down the present government, even if it means both have to swallow the bile of 18 years.
Even though Mahathir may not have asked forgiveness from Anwar, or Anwar has yet to say he has forgiven Mahathir, one cannot deny that both are top Machiavellian politicians who sure know how to get the limelight.
With Umno divisions nationwide busy with their meetings to gear up for the main Umno General Assembly, the meeting of these two former Umno giants will dominate and be much discussed, a sneaky way in which Mahathir and Anwar will penetrate Umno forts, with just a little shiver down the spine.