The saying that meaning is contextual has a very dramatic proof in Malaysia. Anwar Ibrahim was tried and jailed late 2000. He was deputy to the then Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohammed who left office in 2003. Sixteen years later, Anwar Ibrahim might be taking over power from Dr Mahathir after both teamed up together to beat Najib Razak, the incumbent in last week’s election. What followed was a request to the constitutional monarch, Sultan Muhammad V, for pardon for Ibrahim by Dr Mahathir. As at today, the story is that “The pardons board has already met and the king has granted a full pardon, which means all past convictions have been expunged”. All else is forgiven! State power can cleanse.
Mahathir’s newspaper statement last year that he committed an error of judgment in not ensuring that Ibrahim, his then Deputy, succeeded him is being taken as the closest to a public apology to his former second-in-command. What went on behind the scene between the two might have been a thicker reconciliation. It might be undiplomatic but probably not too terrible to say Dr Mahathir saw Anwar Ibrahim to jail and the dynamics worked out in such a way that he is seeing him out of jail. The truth of yesterday has become falsehood of today. Talk of the relativism of truth. What a great human story in the role of power in conflict and conflict resolution.