Sept 8, 2008 By Sajahan Abdul Waheed
THE next eight days will be telling for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim: his sodomy trial opens on Wednesday and the clock is winding down on his boast of seizing control of government by Sept 16.
The Pakatan Rakyat leader will answer charges that he sodomised his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 23.
Anwar is scheduled to appear in the Sessions Court for a hearing to fix the trial date.
He was formally charged on Aug 7 with committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature in a Kuala Lumpur condominium in June.
However, unlike 1988 when he faced similar charges, he has been granted bail and his passport was not impounded.
He was free to campaign and win the Permatang Pauh by-election on Aug 26.
Fuelled by the momentum of his return to Parliament after a 10-year absence, there is no turning back for the former deputy prime minister as Sept 16 approaches.
Ignoring the immorality of forming a parliamentary majority by defections, he says he is on track to topple the Barisan Nasional government elected in the March 8 general election.
Failure to realise his claims would be a setback and result in Anwar losing credibility among other parties in Pakatan Rakyat and in the eyes of the people.
The path to the top is not as easy as he claims.
Every rumour of a member of parliament's crossover from BN, widely spread by text messages last Thursday and Friday, has been disproved.
BN component party leaders have repeatedly denied that any of their MPs is switching camps.
But Anwar's propaganda machine keeps enough people, including local and foreign investors, on tenterhooks and confused about the country's political future.
Said a politician: "There are too many SMSes being spread.
"The first thing I do when I wake up is to check my handphone to see if there is any development.
"You can feel the tension all over.
"It is a question of will he or won't he be able to form a new government."
A major realignment of political forces resulting in a change in government would have been more practical weeks after the March polls.
But six months later and with just eight days before Sept 16, it seems unlikely.
Some had expected the defections to take place after and at the height of euphoria over Anwar's Permatang Pauh win. That did not happen.
As simple as it is for him to poach a few, it is not at all clear where Anwar would get the 30 MPs to enable him to set up a new government and achieve his aim of becoming prime minister.
As of now, BN has a commanding 140 MPs compared with Pakatan Rakyat's 82.
But his intentions, however, can rattle BN as shown by the move last week by the Backbenchers' Club to go on an overseas study tour.
It played into Anwar's hands, allowing him to say in Jakarta on Saturday that he would mull over his options.
He was quoted as saying the date might now be Sept 17, when the MPs return.
The matter will be discussed with his Parti Keadilan Rakyat colleagues.
But even a day's delay would raise doubts and add to the impression that Anwar is a man who cannot live up to his word.