Farewell To Anwar?
By: Kim Quek

The jigsaw is finally pieced together, following the announcement of Ahmad Fairuz as the new Chief Justice.

For weeks, this Country is rife with speculations on the sudden flurry of activities in the Malaysian courts where long delayed hearings on Anwar Ibrahim’s two convictions were suddenly scheduled with the shortest notices to take place within a squeezed time frame in the second part of March.

On Anwar’s first conviction on “corruption”, the Federal Court (the highest court) had not responded to Anwar’s appeal for a judicial review for almost a year.

On Anwar’s second conviction on “sodomy”, the Appellant Court had steadfastly ignored Anwar’s numerous written and verbal requests to hear his appeal for the past 3 years.

Then, why this sudden hurry to rush through Anwar’s hearings now?

Any person with elementary intelligence could smell a rat in these extra-ordinary manoeuvring.

Exactly what rat? The answer is found in the following series of event:

FIRST, there is a dateline to meet. Anwar is due for release from prison on 14th April 2003 over his first conviction, with the automatic one-third remission upon good conduct.

SECOND, Anwar’s second conviction is such that bail cannot be denied to him under normal circumstances. Now that the court has already refused to hear his appeal for the past three years without giving any reason, refusing bail to Anwar at this time without first hearing his appeal would be construed as an unmistakable plot to condemn Anwar to long imprisonment while shunning the due process of law. Such denial of bail would be deemed so unjust that no judge is prepared to go through with it. Hence, Anwar’s appeal must be heard before any judge could be persuaded to deny Anwar bail.

THIRD, incumbent Chief Justice Mohamad Dzaiddin is apparently an unwilling party to uphold Anwar’s second conviction, or else the hearing would have taken place long ago. However, with the changing of guard from Dzaiddin to
Fairuz taking place in mid-March, this problem is solved.

Fairuz’s record as a judge is not exactly held with pride by the legal fraternity. In fact, his judgments on political cases are generally viewed as unduly pro-establishment and lacking in judicial coed by the Anwar commotion would have nicely settled.

It should be clear by now that the urgent scheduling of Anwar’s two court hearings, the appointment of the new chief justice, and the early leave of Mahathir have all been precisely timed with clockwork precision to ensure a safe and no-fuss transition for Anwar to move from his present prison term (4 years) to the next (minimum 6 years).

In case Malaysians forget, for the past 3 years, Anwar has been suffering from continuous and excruciating pain due to a spinal injury, and he would not have survived if not for the continuous administration of painkillers all this time. He is now partially paralysed, bedridden, and can only move about in a wheelchair. Much of these sufferings could have been avoided, if the power that be had not been adamant in denying Anwar the oversea medical treatment he so earnestly sought.

Another six years of imprisonment under the same circumstances is as good as a death sentence to Anwar.

Exactly what high crime of treason against this Country has Anwar committed to justify such injustice and cruelty?

Was it that long ago that Anwar was hailed as a rising political star in this region that would lead Malaysia to greater heights, befriended and respected by world leaders, cherished and loved by the masses of this Country?

As for his so called crimes, is it not true that his trials have been resoundingly condemned at home and abroad as a great travesty of justice and sheer political persecution?

If Anwar was that corrupted, how is it that it was he who had carried out the most serious anti-corruption campaign this Country has ever seen when he was acting prime minister for two months in Mahathir’s absence? During that period, Anwar strengthened anti-corruption legislation and formed high level watchdog committee in every state to spearhead the anti-corruption movement, in addition to a nation wide educational campaign of symposiums and workshops to educate the people on the ills of corruption. Regrettably, that campaign died a fast and natural death when Mahathir returned from his leave.

If Anwar does not fit into the picture of a criminal, then why is he treated worst than a common criminal, denied bail and critical medical treatment that should otherwise have been granted?

To answer this question, Malaysians’ memory must race back to the tumultuous time of the recent Asian financial crisis, when certain Asian nations felled like dominos. Just like others, Malaysia’s currency and stock market collapsed. High-flying and poorly managed conglomerates suddenly became insolvent. Among the worst hit in this category were practically all the crony enterprises built up through political patronage during the hay days of the Mahathir-Daim axis. Anwar, as finance minister then, obstructed an attempt to carry out indiscriminate sweeping bail out of these crony conglomerates using massive public funds. This heightened the tension between Anwar and the Mahathir-Daim axis, as the former was increasingly seen as a serious threat to the survival of the crony capitalist empire.

The point of no return came, when UMNO Youth, which was patronized by Anwar, sounded the battle cry to stamp out corruption, cronyism and nepotism in its annual conference in mid-1998. This move was inspired by a similar move that toppled the Suharto leadership in Indonesia, and prompted by fear that Malaysia was sliding down the Indonesian way due to the apparent collapse of investor confidence at home. Two months later, Anwar was sacked and arrested and subsequently convicted for “corruption” and “sodomy” respectively.

During the few precious days between his sacking on Sept 2nd and his arrest on Sept 20th, Anwar launched the Reformasi movement that was to be the watershed of the political history of this Country. For the first time since our Independence four decades ago, a political movement backed by Malay masses was formed, whose agenda is not of race, but of political reforms that include: restoration of democracy and justice, and wiping out corruption and cronyism. These reforms, if carried out, would have rid Malaysia of its current ills and put it on the path of genuine national integration and growth.

Anwar’s immense pull on the masses was obvious, when for the first time in history, UMNO suffered the humiliating set back of loosing the support of the majority of Malays in the last general election. Anwar’s threat to UMNO was real, for his agenda was the anti-dose to UMNO’s ills, and above all, he could pull the Malay masses along with him.

In a few days, Anwar would be placed before the guillotine, legally speaking. Anwar’s political rivals may hope that this would be the last chapter of the Anwar nightmare. But to millions of patriotic Malaysians, this is a moment of great sadness, for they will be witnessing how this Country's unjust system would be delivering what may possibly be the final blow to one of their greatest sons.

- Kim Quek - 18.03.2003


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