Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dr Essop Pahad interviews Anwar Ibrahim

Essop Pahad (EP): In your early political life you cut your teeth in the Muslim Student Movement. In what way did it influence your political thinking and development?
Anwar Ibrahim (AI): Basically we had a traditional, conservative upbringing. Within the Muslim Student Movement we pursued a broad strategic approach in our interactions with Buddhists, Hindus and Christians.We were not isolationists concerned only with the aspirations of Muslim students. Through a Youth Council we engaged with students from other religious groups. Many of us were also influenced by the writings of Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire. We were also active during the 1960s, a decade characterised by the huge ideological divide between Left and Right, East and West, as well as the overarching impact of the Cold War. Our own political consciousness was heightened by the struggle against imperialism, the Vietnam War and the heroic struggles of the Palestinians and South Africans led by the PLO and ANC. Our outlook at the time was already quite global and we organised and participated in demonstrations in support of anticolonial national liberation struggles in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

EP: Were you involved with international youth and student organisations?

AI: Very much so. Unlike the ANC, which was linked to the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), we were associated with the World Assembly of Youth (WAY). WAY had been set up by the United States and countries in Western Europe to counter the impact and influence of WFDY, which they regarded as a proSoviet-communist front. WAY had its headquarters in Belgium and, for a while, I served on its Central Executive Committee. Due to the heavy and undue influence of the United States and some actors in Western Europe, WAY failed to take a progressive stand on the Vietnam War, the struggle of the Palestinians, the Arab-Israeli conflict and other international issues.We were Muslims but also had contacts with the Left. In WAY we debated and engaged with those issues, but to little avail. Under those circumstances I resigned my position in WAY. Our youth movement, as well as those from other parts of the world supported my position. However the Malaysian government of that time was not pleased. They did not take kindly to those who opposed America. Yet, compared to the ANC, my politics would be considered moderate.

EP: As a Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, then Agriculture followed by Education, and from 1993 to 1998 Deputy Prime Minister, you accumulated a great deal of knowledge, expertise and experience in government. Could you comment on your period in government? .....continue reading The Thinker

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