Quietly, but surely, the former deputy prime minister is building support among the middle class A caricature by leading cartoonist Zukiflee Anwar, or Zunar, soon after Anwar Ibrahim was released from jail, tells in blinding simplicity the former deputy prime minister's long political struggle, with a wisecrack on what lies ahead for the veteran Malaysian dissident. The first take shows Mr Anwar as a fiery student leader in 1974 screaming 'demonstrasi', the watch word of the day. The next has him as a minister in 1986 mildly mouthing 'demokrasi'. In the third scene, after he was sacked and jailed in 1998, he is fiery once again and screams, 'reformasi'. The last scene is the clincher. Mr Anwar has been freed after six years in jail and everyone is eager to know what new slogan he is about announce but the cartoon shows an elderly and bemused Mr Anwar who says: 'Wait and see.' Four months into his freedom, he is not screaming any of the old slogans that are part of his political baggage nor has he invented a new one to fit the changed political circumstances that now greets him. His old nemesis, Mahathir Mohamad, has retired, and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi dominates the same Islamic and reformist platform that had once propelled Mr Anwar from student leader to deputy prime minister in just 10 years. Nevertheless, since his September release Mr Anwar has rattled the political establishment with his stringent criticism, a natural charisma to pull the crowd and an intellectual capacity to set or steal the national agenda and dominate the subsequent discourse. 'Quietly but surely Anwar is galvanising the masses, giving voice to their fears and hopes and raising his status as the new leader for a new Malaysia that is based on equality and justice for all races,' said MG.G. Pillai, a political commentator. 'He is preaching a reform agenda minus the fiery rhetoric and street demonstrations of the past but remains a capable and consummate rabble-rouser.' Mr Anwar's speeches cover familiar ground - the lack of transparency and accountability, the need for racial equality and affirmative action, and the lack of political and press freedom. He chides Mr Abdullah for promising a lot but not taking the tough actions needed for a new Malaysia that is free of the excesses that fomented under Dr Mahathir. Wherever he goes, Mr Anwar draws large multiracial crowds. Since his September release, he has been criss-crossing the country meeting ordinary people, political supporters and businessmen and drumming up support for his reform agenda. The government-controlled mainstream media boycotts Mr Anwar, but large crowds gather via word-of-mouth to hear him speak. 'He attracts people like a magnet,' said Mr Pillai. 'It does not matter if he can deliver on his promises but people want to see and hear him.' A political analyst said: 'Anwar's condemnation of corruption, cronyism and official inaction is strongly appealing to the long-suffering middle class. 'The multiracial middle class had believed Abdullah's promise of change and had backed him overwhelmingly in the March election but they are now disappointed and beginning to be cynical. 'They are beginning to see Abdullah as weak and unable to take tough decisions because he remains beholden to Dr Mahathir.'