Archive for January 10th, 2012

Anwar’s acquittal a victory for justice but not yet a triumph for the justice system

I had in my first response to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal from Sodomy II charges yesterday said that it was a victory for justice.

There was immediate response from detractors accusing me of double standards, alleging that I would regard the justice system as fair and just when Anwar is freed but the opposite if Anwar is imprisoned.

These detractors have got me wrong. Anwar’s acquittal was a victory for justice but not yet a triumph for the justice system.

Just as a swallow does not make a summer, the justice system in Malaysia has a very long way to go despite the Anwar Sodomy II acquittal to restore national and international confidence in its in efficiency, independence and integrity.

In acquitting Anwar, Judge Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah cited the possibility that the DNA samples were compromised and the lack of corroborative evidence. On these grounds alone, Anwar should never had been charged in this first place. Furthermore, Anwar’s defence should not have been called at the end of the prosecution case. Read the rest of this entry »


Anwar’s problems are not over yet

By Sakmongkol AK47 | 10 January 2012

Anwar has been acquitted. I don’t wish to douse the flames of enthusiasm that was evident on the faces and response from his supporters. Family members and friends were elated. I am watching out for possible landmines.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Anwar said, this present case shouldn’t be considered as a landmark case representing the independence of the judiciary. The only concession he made was to recognize the courage of the presiding judge to arrive at this particular verdict. It will be interesting to watch what happens in the coming months.

The future of Malaysia will depend on what happens within one or two weeks after the Anwar verdict. He has been acquitted. However I do not think he is out of the woods yet. Despite being acquitted Anwar is circumspect about the judiciary. His acquittal does not prove the judiciary is independent he says. Now, that is somewhat ominous. Why would Anwar say that?
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After sodomy acquittal, Malaysia’s Anwar pressing for power

By Simon Roughneen, Correspondent | January 9, 2012
The Christian Science Monitor

Monday’s surprise acquittal of Malaysia’s opposition leader in a sodomy trial that many viewed as politically motivated eases the prospect of unrest in the multi-ethnic country, one of southeast Asia’s largest tourist draws.

The potential for trouble was highlighted by three small explosions near the courthouse on Monday morning, injuring several people, while a jubilant Anwar Ibrahim mingled with a raucous, fist-pumping crowd of several thousand supporters. Mr. Anwar, a former government insider who has been hounded by legal actions over alleged sodomy since he broke with Malaysia’s ruling party in the 1990s said, “I thank God for this great news, I am finally vindicated.”

The ruling benefits not only Anwar, who’s planning to run for prime minister in upcoming elections, but it may also help the current government burnish democratic credentials dimmed by trials like Anwar’s and the detention of other political opponents.

A guilty verdict would have shown-up the judicial system as unfair, says Greg Lopez, who studies Malaysia at Australian National University, and would have “made a martyr” out of Anwar.
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Anwar’s acquittal marks a new chapter

By Dr Lim Teck Ghee | 10 January 2012

Anwar Ibrahim, a key page in the country’s political history has been turned.

Immediate winners are of course Anwar, his family, his team of lawyers, and the opposition. For Anwar, it was not only exoneration of the sexual smear charges brought against him; it was also a victory for his political fortunes and that of Pakatan Rakyat, now reenergized, ahead of the coming elections.

As the clock winds down – much more slowly now as a result of this verdict – towards the end of the current term of the Barisan government, Anwar has quite rightly refrained from crowing over this unexpected verdict.

In his first comments to the press following the court decision, Anwar asked his supporters to concentrate on the larger reform agenda, and on fighting against corruption and ensuring the freedom of the media.
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A grave injustice avoided

By Ooi Kee Beng | January 10, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

JAN 10 — The High Court verdict on Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial must be seen as a big triumph for the three-member opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

One of the biggest challenges that it has in trying to win federal power is to convince voters that it has the leaders needed for such a change in paradigm.

And whatever the ideology of its component parties, they have to deal with the reality that a PR prime minister must come from the Malay community. Whether or not Democratic Action Party stalwart Lim Kit Siang can be accepted as deputy prime minister is one thing, but a non-Malay as top leader is still not thinkable in this time and age.

That is why so much energy had over the last few years been put by opinion makers supportive of the ruling Barisan Nasional into questioning the suitability of Anwar to become prime minister. The latest to join this choir was surprisingly blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, a one-time Anwar supporter.
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Reform or inertia? It’s gone past that by now

By Farish A. Noor | January 09, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

JAN 9 — It has been a rather long time since I have had any reason to be thankful or optimistic about where Malaysia is heading, but today I allowed myself a small helping of optimism (and I hasten to add it was a small helping) as a result of the judgement that was passed (or rather not passed) on Anwar Ibrahim.

Others have already sagely noted that it is too early to jump the gun and proclaim that Malaysia is on the path of genuine institutional reform, though I was pleased to see that the charges against Anwar were thrown out for the best of reasons, namely that there was little that could be used against the man.

Decades from now a movie might be made about the life of Anwar Ibrahim, and though he — and Malaysia — cannot be said to be an individual or country that merits such global attention it has to be conceded that very few individuals have had to go through what he has been through, along with his long-suffering family.
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After Acquittal, Malaysian Political Icon Looks to Poll


KUALA LUMPUR—His unexpected acquittal on sodomy charges Monday frees Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim finally to look past his trial and on toward the country’s coming national election.

The verdict by Judge Zabidin Diah at the High Court could also warm this key Muslim nation’s relations with the U.S. as the Obama administration tries to build stronger ties across Asia. Malaysia’s government described the verdict as proof it doesn’t try to sway court decisions, a frequent accusation of Mr. Anwar and other opposition activists. Mr. Anwar himself, speaking to a swarm of television crews outside the packed courtroom, described it as a surprise and a vindication.

Now the 64-year-old opposition leader is shifting focus to the election, which must be called by March of next year. Analysts predict it will be a closely contested battle between him and Prime Minister Najib Razak for the center ground of a country that has shown a growing desire for political and economic change over the past few months.
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Anwar acquittal boosts Malaysia’s opposition

By Dr Ooi Kee Beng | 9 January 2012
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
BBC News

To the great surprise of many of his followers, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was found not guilty of the sodomy charge brought against him by a former aide.

High Court judge Zabidin Mohamad Diah declared him innocent early on Monday morning, while huge crowds gathered outside the building in support of the former deputy prime minister. The DNA samples presented by the prosecution to prove Mr Anwar’s guilt, he decided, were compromised.

The unexpected verdict may not prove that the judiciary is free of the executive, but it does show that the executive is not all-powerful.

This is also the second time Mr Anwar has been acquitted on such a charge. After being sacked as the country’s second most powerful person by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed back in September 1998, he was jailed for misuse of power for six years. Just when a consecutive nine-year jail sentence for sodomy was to be served, the Federal Court overturned the decision in 2004.
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Anwar’s acquittal and the 901 rally

By Kee Thuan Chye | Jan 9, 2012

Anwar Ibrahim is free! Many people did not expect he would be acquitted by the High Court judge presiding over his Sodomy II trial.

In fact, the situation looked dire for Anwar when the judge ruled in May that Anwar’s alleged victim, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, was a truthful and credible witness.

But now the judge feels that Saiful’s testimony is not enough to convict Anwar (left) because it is uncorroborated. More important to the judge is his uncertainty about the integrity of the DNA samples, and that is his main reason for acquitting Anwar.

Does this mean that the episode is over? No. The government can still appeal. And who knows what the outcome of the appeal might be?

I would say, however, that the government should not appeal. This would drag the case on and on again, and it’s already drained such a lot of resources – the rakyat’s money, the rakyat’s emotions – and tarnished the country’s image.
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Anwar Ibrahim Acquitted of Sodomy Charges

By John Berthelsen | 9 JANUARY 2012

Now what?

As thousands of supporters cheered outside the court, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was found not guilty of sodomy charges by High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah, who said “the court cannot be 100 percent certain that DNA was not contaminated.”

Under Malaysia’s system of justice, the prosecution is allowed to appeal a not-guilty verdict. Prior to the ruling, some observers in Kuala Lumpur suggested the government would do just that, which would keep Anwar tied up in legal matters for as long as another year through an expected election. Under a scenario described to Asia Sentinel several weeks ago, the government, knowing a guilty verdict would make Anwar a martyr, would opt to have the judge rule him not guilty and appeal.

“The prosecution has a month to decide whether to appeal,” said a Kuala Lumpur-based lawyer. “They have to examine the decision and attempt to discover if they have grounds for an appeal. But this is Malaysian politics. You have to look at the scenario. From a legal and jurisprudential point of view, there were too many inconsistencies to warrant a conviction. But from a political point of view, anything can happen.”
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