Here are my five personal choices for the next prime minister of Malaysia...
1. LATOK LAT @ Mohd Nor Khalid: With so many cartoon characters in the Cabinet, we really ought to have a master cartoonist as PM. Especially one listed among the World's Top 100 Cartoonists! I've known Lat for 45 years. He used to ride a noisy old Triumph motorcycle to work (he was on the crime desk at the NST in those days and the editors had no idea the kid could draw until they saw a feature on him in Asia Magazine). He was the only one who seemed impressed by the 450cc metallic purple 1948 BSA I owned (it had no rear shock absorbers so you can imagine how rattled I'd appear at the end of each ride).
We used to chill at a mutual friend's house in PJ, getting stoned and belting out a medley of Bob Dylan songs. A few years later some friends formed a bluegrass band called K.D. Possum & The Flying Fox and Lat joined us on lead guitar and bass (he was billed as "Nashville Slim" and he was damn good too, even crooned a couple of Johnny Cash songs occasionally).
So with Lat as PM I'd have little to worry about. I doubt he'd ever ISA or SOSMA me. The worst that could happen if I refuse to giggle at his jokes might be he'd revert to calling me by my discarded User ID. Lat has a knack of injecting so much empathy and warmth into his caricatures. Nobody is evil in Lat's world (he could even make Dr M come across as lovable). After all the badmouthing and mudslinging that's been raging in local politics, Lat as PM would bring about genuine muhibbah and transform us all into true Malaysians.
2. SUFIAH YUSOF: Now this sexy young lady might be just what we need to instill a bit of discipline into our law enforcement thugs and bottom-pinching, child-molesting ministers. I know Sufiah charges £130 an hour for her services - which works out to £31,200 a month (or RM204,672). But she'd be worth every penny if she could whip the entire Cabinet into shape and turn civil servants into fine, upstanding members of society.
A former child prodigy in mathematics, Sufiah would be outstanding as finance minister too. In fact, with her undisputed multi-tasking skills, she could take over all the ministerial portfolios, thereby freeing the other MPs from tedious routine and allowing them the opportunity to take up healthy, useful hobbies like cycling, earthworm-breeding and yoga. The National Fatwa Council would be abolished and replaced with the National Fat-Reducing Council, with a special mandate to monitor the weight of all top rank bureaucrats. All those prone to obesity would be nominated as contestants in state-sponsored marathon fuckfests - or summoned to the PM's office after hours to perform national service.
Another distinct advantage of having Sufiah Yusof as PM would be getting Hannah Tan (left) as deputy PM. I've only ever bumped into Hannah once at the Actors Studio foyer in Bangsar and she came across as an extremely friendly and enchanting person with heaps of undiscovered potential.
As deputy PM her official duties would include doing what she's already does so well - which is to reassure Malaysians that there's no place like home. As DPM Hannah would also serve as our roving ambassador-at-large, luring more foreign investors to embark on joint ventures and breed more irresistible Pan-Asian beauties.
3. NURUL IZZAH ANWAR: Izzah is only 34 (she turns 35 on 19 November) and has been an MP for just seven years, but judging by her effortless poise and magnetic personality (she has half-a-million likes on Facebook!) - not to mention her sparkling intelligence, maturity and dedication - she's already light years ahead of veteran politicos like Tengku Razaleigh - and every inch a natural-born Princess too. Put Nurul Izzah in a line-up with Rosmah Mansor, Rafidah Aziz, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Azalina Othman - and for good measure throw in the alluring Umno Princess Noraini Ahmad, the winsome Hannah Yeoh, and the indomitable Teresa Kok - and see just who the rakyat will nominate as prime ministerial candidate. Yup, Izzah is Daddy's Girl right down to her determination, her drive, her charismatic beauty and above all, her winning streak.
4. WAN AZIZAH ISMAIL: No other woman in Malaysia has done as much to demonstrate the quiet, gentle power of the Feminine Principle as former Opposition Leader Wan Azizah, fondly known as Kak Wan. She studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and was awarded gold medals in obstretics and gynecology, but opted to graduate as an ophthamologist instead. When her husband was sacked as deputy PM and finance minister in September 1998, Wan Azizah rose to the occasion and led the Reformasi movement as president of Parti KeADILan Nasional (the National Justice Party, which later merged with Parti Rakyat Malaysia to form Parti Keadilan Rakyat or the People's Justice Party).
All through the difficult years when her husband was incarcerated and in grievous pain from an untreated spinal injury, Wan Azizah carried herself with courage, dignity and stoicism - and yet she had a warm smile and a kind word for everyone she met at ceramahs. The people of Malaysia not only hold Wan Azizah in the highest esteem, but wholeheartedly adore, respect, and trust her. Not given to raising her voice or using harsh words, this living embodiment of nobility and virtue is the complete antithesis of - and the perfect antidote to - the degeneracy, corruption and hypocrisy within Umno that crept in during the Mahathir administration (and which continues to block the way for truly inspiring leaders to take over). With Wan Azizah as PM this nation will experience a massive healing and be restored to its destined greatness. There's only one contentious issue with Wan Azizah's candidacy for prime ministership: she says she's sick and tired of politics and vows to retire as soon as humanly possible. Which leaves...
5. DATO' SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM: Is he the world's most successful failure? How come he's still the Opposition Leader and not PM? And why did he insist in September 2008 that he had "the numbers" for a bloodless takeover of the federal government? Will Saiful Bukhari's sodomy accusation be exposed as a vile conspiracy and the whole ridiculous case thrown out - or will Anwar find himself sucked into a rerun of the same nightmare, like a Prometheus chained to a rock and subject to having his reputation devoured by a vulture named Mahathir for all eternity?
Anwar Ibrahim is undeniably a man of extraordinary destiny, whose life reads like classic mythology, and whose trials and tribulations have been epic, perhaps even messianic. Feared, mistrusted, slandered, betrayed, unjustly accused, cruelly arrested, brutalized, constantly criticized, politically crucified and thrown in the dungeon for six long years - Anwar Ibrahim's resurrection and heroic return from the political wilderness is the very stuff of legends. Despite the jaw-dropping miracle he has wrought by pulling and holding together the diverse factions within the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition - facilitating the political tsunami of 8 March 2008 that swept away Umno/BN's hitherto unvanquished and behemoth monopoly on power - some Malaysians remain skeptical and continue to mock Anwar's publicly stated ambition to become PM.
I am certainly not one of them. Since 2 September 1998 - the day Anwar ceased to be DPM, finance minister and Umno bigwig - I have been observing the man closely and he has conducted himself impeccably as a spiritual warrior and visionary leader. From grudging admiration and growing respect, I have come to love the man as dearly as I love myself and my country. Yes, I believe and trust in Anwar Ibrahim and I have absolutely no qualms that he will prove the best prime minister for Malaysia at this juncture of our political evolution. And that's precisely why Najib Razak has conspired to consign Anwar back to jail by making a complete mockery of Malaysia's judicial system.
[Originally posted 6 November 2008 & reposted 16 February 2014 & 25 September 2014]