Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:21 PM PST
We all know that regimes use “bark on” intelligence to manipulate long-term favorable outcomes.
On Monday, we saw this unfold in Malaysia when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of the sex charge despite the fact that he would certainly continue to be a thorn for the ruling UMNO-led coalition government.
Anwar’s potential to embarrass the Barisan Nasional government coupled with the government’s hysteria and fears mean that the father- of-six is better off in jail or at least convicted.
But this did not happen as widely anticipated. Although I am happy that Anwar is a free man, this freedom simply cannot be a political decision used to hoodwink the people.
Notwithstanding prime minister Najib Tun Razak’s hawkish leadership, I hope this is not another calculated measure to stem huge losses for the government at the next general polls which is widely expected to be held in March this year.
To put it simply, we cannot have Anwar walking free today only to be found guilty at the Court of Appeal. And by which time, the election would be over.
The sex trial has been dubious from the very beginning. It was riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. Not only was Anwar denied crucial documents but the DNA samples, evidence the prosecution heavily relied on, was tainted.
We saw the government’s manipulation in the circulation of Anwar’s so-called sex videos to scar his image while ruling politicians took pot-shots at him to further tarnish his reputation.
He was labeled as a stooge for the Americans, pro-Chinese and even portrayed as a Jewish agent. If this is not enough, his family was also threatened.
This was also extended to Anwar colleagues and other opposition politicians who were hit with allegations of corruption. These dirty tactics were manufactured to weaken the Pakatan Rakyat leadership, particularly in Selangor.
The government had ample help from the local media which did not hesitate to demonize Anwar and the opposition coalition partners.
The Malaysian media has become a powerful ally of official lies spewed out by the UMNO-led ruling government. It’s almost like the American media which, smitten by gaffes, apple polishes the nation’s actual problems like its desperate poor and economic disaster.
Savagely single-minded UMNO politicians must however understand that arbitrary decisions and smear campaigns would not work anymore.
It’s slash-and-burn politics coupled with the potent right-wing news media have been rejected by the rakyat, who are geared to throw out the Barisan Nasional government at the next election.
This is evident in the thousands who turned up for Anwar’s rallies during his recent nationwide tour and at the High Court this morning.
Maybe Najib and UMNO know they cannot continue to be inspired by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels who said that “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.
Likewise they must understand that Malaysians would not translate Anwar’s acquittal this morning to mean the judiciary is independent. They can see through the shadow play by Najib to regain the confidence of the people.
Today’s judgment is a victory for the people. It demonstrates the power of the people.
Let’s exercise that power at the ballot boxes to, once and for all, overthrow a corrupt and dictatorial government.
Member of Parliament, Klang
Posted: 09 Jan 2012 07:13 PM PST
Malaysia: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim Acquitted
(New York, January 9, 2012) – On January 9, 2012, a Kuala Lumpur court acquitted Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of consensual sodomy.
"Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted on a charge that should have never been brought in the first place," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Hopefully the verdict sends a message to the Malaysian government to put this matter to rest."
Anwar had been charged with having consensual sexual relations with Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azland, a former volunteer aide to Anwar, on June 26, 2008. Saiful originally filed a complaint of forcible sodomy, but the police determined that the 60-year-old Anwar, plagued with back problems, could not have sexually assaulted the healthy 23-year-old Saiful. The criminal trial began in February 2010.
High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah said his decision was based on concerns that DNA evidence brought by the prosecution was tainted.
"The court at this stage could not with 100 percent certainty exclude the possibility that the [DNA] sample is not compromised," Judge Zabidin told the courtroom. "Therefore it is not safe to rely on the [DNA] sample. There is no evidence to corroborate [the charge]."
The case against Anwar was politically motivated and plagued with irregularities, Human Rights Watch said. During the trial, the prosecution refused to turn over key evidence as required by the Malaysian criminal procedure code, including its witness list and witness statements, notes by the doctors who examined Saiful at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, pharmacists' worksheets and notes on DNA testing and analysis, and closed-circuit television recordings from the condominium guardhouse where the alleged sodomy took place. The Kuala Lumpur hospital report, authorized by three doctors, found "no conclusive clinical findings suggestive of penetration to the anus."
Human Rights Watch reiterated its call for Malaysia to revoke its colonial-era law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations.
Anwar, a former deputy prime minister and finance minister, is credited with forming the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (People's Pact) coalition. This is the second time Anwar has been charged with sodomy. He spent six years in prison before his previous conviction was overturned in 2004.
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Malaysia, please visit:
In Bangkok, Phil Robertson (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); or firstname.lastname@example.org
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