Newly-minted Deputy Works Minister Anuar Tahir has come full circle in his political journey, having been in UMNO and PAS; and widely credited as the man who birthed both Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah).
“I am what you call a reluctant politician,” the 66-year-old says, a grin in tow, adding that he is more comfortable in his activist role, while insisting that his political journey has largely been driven by need rather than by choice.
Anwar asked for my help to form a new political party which champions new a spirit, and new aspirations. So I did it, quietly. Because at that time, it was not easy to start a new party
“At that time, the situation forced me to play a role,” says Anuar of his political push at the start of the Reformasi era, after fellow Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) colleague Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as deputy Prime Minister and from UMNO in 1998.
“Anwar asked for my help to form a new political party which champions new a spirit, and new aspirations. So I did it, quietly. Because at that time, it was not easy to start a new party,” says Tahir.
Backed by the brewing Reformasi movement, Tahir led the ‘takeover’ of a small Terengganu-based party, Ikatan Masyarakat Islam Malaysia (IKATAN) and relaunched it as Parti Keadilan Nasional (PKN) on April 4, 1999; just in time for the general elections.
“PKN took on the earth-shaped logo, which I introduced. This was before the party was known as PKR and changed to the eye logo. The earth represents universal fairness,” he explains.
Tahir was made the party’s first secretary general, but he parted ways with PKN and joined PAS in 2003, where he was a central committee member. “As you all are well aware, there were internal issues within PAS. Some of us left the party. We decided that we needed a new face, a new platform.”
“So my colleagues said, given my success in forming, registering and launching PKN previously, why not do it again this time?” says Tahir.
“And quietly, again, I helped take over another party - Parti Pekerja-Pekerja Malaysia, and it was later renamed as Amanah.” Tahir was made secretary-general of the progressive Islamist party, while former PAS colleague Mohamad Sabu is now party president and Defence Minister.
Tahir has been involved in social activism since 1971, largely in student and Islamic movements, including ABIM, The International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, World Assembly of Muslim Youth; and even in local consumer and environment associations.
I feel that, people who live in our times, must feel how amazing it is to be around to witness 9 May
Tahir has never won an election until May 9, 2018. He had previously contested the Padang Besar parliamentary seat on PKR ticket in 1999 and the Beseri (2004) and Bintong (2008) state seats in Perlis on PAS ticket.
Deemed as outsider and underdog, Tahir surprised pundits when he won the Temerloh seat with a 1,904 vote majority in a five-corner fight, going up against Temerloh UMNO division chief Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin.
“I feel that, people who live in our times, must feel how amazing it is to be around to witness 9 May.”
“The decision made by all four component parties to contest the election under the PKR logo - which I helped designed - became the symbol of of unity among Malaysians,” Tahir says with a smile.
“The fight has just begun. The win was a mandate from the people,” says Tahir, who was elected Deputy Works Minister on Tuesday. “The rakyat wants real a change - no more lip service; they want total change.”