There is no doubt that the Barisan Nasional’s two-thirds parliamentary majority in the next general election is now even shakier as a result of its botch-up over Anwar’s arsenic poisoning, alienating even the erstwhile fence-sitters.
This is why the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has not yet dissolved Parliament for general elections, as adverse public reaction to the Barisan Nasional’s mishandling of Anwar’s arsenic poisoning had undone whatever success Mahathir might have achieved in his nation-wide tours to win back Malay heartland support.
It is probably because of this belated discovery that the hamfisted handling of Anwar’s arsenic poisoning has caused the Barisan Nasional to lose even more popular support that the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday advised all groups including those in the government to wait for the outcome of the probe being conducted by the authorities before making any comment on the Anwar Ibrahim poison issue.
Abdullah is right, for any attempt to prejudge the Anwar poison issue, as claiming that the allegation was fabricated; that Anwar poisoned himself; or that Anwar had a three-fold agenda to concoct the allegation, namely to agitate his followers to demonstrate in the streets, to blacken the nation’s image on the occasion of the APEC Summit Meeting and the Commonwealth Law Conference, and to delay his sodomy trial, not only undermine public confidence that there could be unbiased police investigation into the case but also make the people wonder whether independent medical examination of Anwar would be permitted.
Unfortunately, Abdullah was two weeks too late to give such advice to Barisan Nasional leaders not to make any adverse comments about Anwar’s poisoning issue until the outcome of investigations, as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, the Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, the Rural Development Minister, Datuk Anuar Musa and he himself had made statements showing their bias and prejudice in prejudging the Anwar poison case.
The Barisan Nasional leadership has only itself to blame if there is the highest degree of public skepticism about the outcome of medical and police investigation into Anwar’s poison issue, and this is why the government should establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to restore public confidence that it has nothing to hide or fear from an independent public inquiry.
It is still not too late for the Cabinet next Wednesday to decide on the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Anwar’s poisoning issue, and all Ministers should collectively and individually justify to the people and their respective electorates why they are afraid to set up such a Royal Commission of Inquiry.