Another Trial for Malaysia

By Farish A. Noor

The trials and tribulations of Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim continue, and history seems to be repeating itself time and again in the country. Ten years after the infamous trial where he was accused of sexual misconduct and abuse of power, Anwar Ibrahim is once again being investigated for charges of sexual misconduct with a man who was a member of his party, the People’s Justice Party (PKR) of Malaysia.

On 16th July Anwar was arrested just after he had given his testimony before the country’s Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), and on his way to give yet another testimony at the Police Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. A deadline had been set at 2.00 pm for him to show up at the police office, and though he was already on his way there he was apprehended near his home before the deadline had expired.

Anwar has since been arrested under the laws of section 377a of the Malaysian constitution that stipulates that ‘abnormal sex’ is a crime. Yet Malaysians have grown somewhat weary of the use of this law as the last time it was put to work was in 1998, when Anwar was also accused on ‘abnormal sex’. The trial that followed his arrest in 1998 was a shambolic affair that brought low the reputation of the Malaysian judiciary and security services; and the icing on the cake was the assault on Anwar that led to him being produced in court with bruises on his face and the infamous black eye that has been captured for posterity by the world’s media. Malaysia’s legal institutions suffered the biggest blow to their credibility as the court case that followed was scrutinised in detail by Malaysia-watchers the world over.

Today, things have changed and moved on: In 1998 Malaysia’s political crisis was sparked by Anwar’s arrest and the mobilisation of the masses by his political supporters who used tools like the internet and alternative media. Malaysia then had less than a million internet users, and Anwar’s nemesis Dr. Mahathir was at the peak of his popularity.

Malaysia today has moved on with nearly 12 million registered internet users and the creation of the most well-connected, well-informed and politically savvy electorate in its history. Furthermore the present government does not have half of the support that Dr. Mahathir enjoyed in 1998, with the ruling coalition being badly weakened after the election results of 2008. Anwar, on the other hand, is at the peak of his career and popularity; and many feel that this arrest was yet another attempt to prevent him from leading a popular movement to change the government.

On the night before his arrest, Anwar was seen on TV in a live debate about oil prices with a senior politician, Shabary Cheek. For Malaysians all over the country, this was perhaps the first time they had seen Anwar live on TV and allowed to speak his mind freely since his fall from grace in 1998. And the results of the debate were expected: Local polls suggested that the Malaysians saw Anwar as the winner of the debate and that his arguments were convincing.

Anwar’s arrest could therefore not have come at a worst time for the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The question on everyone’s lips is: How will this latest scenario play itself out in Malaysian politics, and what will be the results in the near future?

For a start it is unlikely that Anwar will be released anytime soon as there are fears that he will once again mobilise his supporters and call for massive demonstrations all over the country. But in jail Anwar is as effective an icon for the opposition and a magnet for those disaffected and disillusioned with the government of Prime Minister Badawi.

Prime Minister Badawi has in turn given assurances that the investigation into Anwar’s case will be done fairly and Anwar will be safe. Such assurances are, however, going to be held to account by a Malaysian public that is no longer prepared to accept the irregularities of the earlier trial of Anwar in 1998. This time round, every single step of the investigation will be watched by discerning Malaysians and the wider international community, and the expansion of Malaysia’s civil society and the internet means that every minute detail of the investigation will be made public.

Perhaps the only thing that can save Anwar, Badawi and Malaysia in the long run is an investigation and trial that is absolutely objective, transparent and accountable. For even the slightest hint of bias or irregularity will add credence to Anwar’s claim that the accusations against him are part of a political plot to prevent him from returning to politics; a fact that was stated in his closing remarks during his televised debate where he stated that he intended to contest at a by-election soon.

For now, the ball seems to be in Anwar’s court and it is he who stands to gain the most from his arrest. Whether in or out of jail, Anwar has resumed his status as martyr and public hero. While this may work in the favour of Anwar and other politicians in the country, other serious issues like economic and institutional reform have been sidelined once again. But this time it is not just Anwar and his reputation that is on trial, but also that of Malaysia and Malaysia’s legal and judicial systems as well.

  1. #1 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 10:23 am

    Police has been careful this time, but it did not really help. UMNO and BN are committing another suicide. The suicide of 10 years ago led UMNO to paralyze the brain, and would be fatal this round.

    When will the religious body start to investigate Saiful? It would be interesting to see if Saiful was involved in sexual act and who was the real partner if he did.

  2. #2 by negarawan on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 10:29 am

    Like it or not, UMNO is apartheid. How was apartheid dismantled in SA? The same thing has to happen here to dismantle UMNO

  3. #3 by digard on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 10:38 am

    Relax for 5 minutes and watch the documentary on Nelson Mandela:

    We hope that our kids will have a chance to see something similar over a number of years, be it 2 or 20. You know about whom, don’t you!

  4. #4 by kenyalan08 on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 10:42 am

    Dear YB LIM ,

    Something must be done to “pressure” the government to listen to people voices . Why double standards and no action taken to probe further into the mongolian murder . Same act should be accord to employ foreign experts to look into the murder to prove BN fairness and independent as preach by them .

    With the might of BN in power , demonstrations and shoutings in Parliament are not the answer . Find a peaceful and passive ways to keep pressure the BN .

    Appeal to our honourable AGUNG to intervene . Failure which call for PEOPLE POWER to stop ” the economic ” by going on leave from work for a week . Is time also PKR MPs boycott the parliament for good after all nothing can be done and BN with simple majority can do whatever they like .

  5. #5 by clearwater on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 10:45 am

    This is a trial that Malaysia and its denizens will lose, notwithstanding whether Anwar is exonerated or not. Its law enforcement, legal and judiciary systems are already tainted and has lost public respect. Its ruling politicians are seen as desperadoes who will stop at nothing to retain power. Malaysia wallows in the pits while entertaining the whole world with its version of a soap box opera.

  6. #6 by dragon88 on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 10:59 am

    I am writing from Australia where we are a model of democracy. AAB and the Police never learned from their stupid mistakes.

    1. Why did the police need to wear balaclavas ? Were they robbing a bank or was it snowing there in KL.
    2. Why did they need some more DNA samples whne the had plenty of them from 1998 ?
    3. Can we trust the Police when they are not independent and beholden to the Bodowi and BN..? As in 1998, they will find every way to plant evidences.
    4. If he is brought brofre any court in Australia or UK, the case would be buried before it faces any judge….I hope the Mlalaysian judiciary has learnt their lessons…Maybe, they will try to get ..Augustine back…

  7. #7 by negarawan on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:01 am

    Whenever I hear the cries of “Merdeka”, it brings great sadness to me because in my heart, I know that Malaysia is not fully liberated yet. We still suffer from the oppression, corruption and incompetence of UMNO and BN. In a way the 12th GE has rekindled some hope of change. No change is ever smooth and painless, given the inexperience and fragility of PR, but a government which is willing to do better for the rakyat and who is hardworking and sincere, is better than a government which is corrupt, merciless and treat the rakyat as servants. Nelson Mandela was a great man who is willing to die for his country and in time we will see our Nelson Mandelas in Malaysia. Malaysia is going through a critical point in its history now, and it is up to US THE RAKYAT to determine the type of Malaysia we want for our generation and the future.

  8. #8 by Patek 1472 on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:02 am

    Malaysians are Doomed? Rakyat Malaysia Pupus?

    Jeyklls and Hydes in Malaysia. Are you? (Ask your children.)

    Jeyklls dan Hydes di Malaysia. Adakah anda? (Tanyalah anak-anak anda).

    Posted at

  9. #9 by milduser on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:13 am

    On the positive, maybe the police should be praised for raising the status of DSAI as “martyr and public hero” in the public eyes. Thanks for the well thought out plan which was perfectly executed by the police according to procedure – millions thanks again.

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:13 am

    The most interesting remark of Farish is “For now, the ball seems to be in Anwar’s court and it is he who stands to gain the most from his arrest. Whether in or out of jail, Anwar has resumed his status as martyr and public hero”.

    It raises interesting questions of to what extent that is true about Anwar’s standing to benefit most from his arrest, which also brings into forefront corrollary questions of :-

    · What are the inherent constraints of the government case if proceeded upon;

    · who else will stand to gain or lose from (i) the case going on; the case ending with conviction or (ii) the case ending with acquittal;

    · and what happens to Pakatan Rakyat Coalition due to the case being prosecuted or if conviction is secured and acquittal given.

  11. #11 by nus on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:14 am

    Is it time yet to begin to seek refugee status? May be very soon… next change as in cinemas. Then we Nons can migrate to Australia and other really democratic countries. We have been trying hard to access Malaysia Today… it is always …cannot display page. What is happening?

  12. #12 by Godfather on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:17 am

    “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” the late Johnny Cochrane.

    Foreign experts are being sought by the clueless government to investigate the sodomy case, and that presumably includes examination of the “lock & key” as to whether they fit each other.

  13. #13 by negarawan on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:22 am

    When there is a problem, don’t run away from it. Face it and resolve the problem. No problems are ever resolved by running away from them.

  14. #14 by Elwin Heng on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:22 am

    Regret! Shameful! Disappointment!

    R: back to previous elections, blindly confident ~standby ~vote for ‘lie ~violent?.

    S: what type of concurrent administration system ~human right? ~misused power authority?

    D: who is uncle-LA son-in-law(K)? is he a fortune-teller ~can predict or prevent such information without acknowledge by other department? or is he as independent non-executive director ~so powerful as certain matters controller?

    Review 10years ago bad memory and latest scenario, we felt sympathy on Anwar’s family members ~especially should be 2x or even more on his wife-daughters. Why?
    Let’s see uncle-LA son-in-law(K) reaction, attitude and personality! So ridiculous, basic morality and respect understanding, is he showing a mirror respect while ‘accusing?’ or answering or communicating with a FEMALE? What is your opinion? Proud or shame? You know the ans, don’t you?

    Trial? Hopeless to current system!
    This time unable turnover the power authority, nevermind, wait for next coming election! One time can not… 2nd… 3rd… till the end! Alongside with PR!

    Warmest regards.

  15. #15 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:31 am

    Is this the same Augustine Paul who presided over Anwar’s sodomy trial in 1999 and who now sits on the bench of the Federal Court??

    The Honourable Dato’ Sri Augustine Paul a/l Sinnappen

  16. #16 by malaysiaalwaysboleh on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:39 am

    Well, the road blocks happened this morning again. And Syed Hamid talked crap again. Sigh, our leaders very macho lah.

    Check this commentary out:

  17. #17 by Malaysian citizen on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:41 am

    This whole issue of sodomy is a cooked-up story to try and bring Anwar down , whole Malaysia and the world knows that Umno has felt the pressure from the people and opposition party.

    They can keep abusing their power now but in the next election , they will sure to lose the government.

    There are so many homo or lesbian out there , why don’t they go and catch them one by one.

    The police represent Umno and when I saw Najib saying in the news that they do not interfere whith police investigation , you can see so much guilt in his face expression.

  18. #18 by Yee Siew Wah on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:52 am

    Sick of the government and the police. Hitting the innocent at the worst where the real muderer/s and culprits r free to roam. Having a corrupted n incompetence government n police what do we expect. One senior minister even told the whole wide world that he is not weak n scared and claimed he has an IMPECCABLE record for the country. Goodness, i nearly vomit wen i read his claim today newspaper.
    LKS, i know it is not easy to be in the PKR coalition and at the same time for being an opposition in Malaysia politics. Its a unthankful job. However, st the end of the day we hope u can carry on what u have been doing 4 the rakyat all these years while u still can. I believe rakyat will be grateful and remember u wen u r no longer around. I’ll make sure my children do.

  19. #19 by lupus on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:53 am

    Anwar cannot get a fair trail in Malaysia and UNMO themselves are responsible for this. Why ? An elected MP of the Govt have been talking about it – Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir. [deleted]

  20. #20 by 1to1 on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:57 am

    The surrealistic and cartoonish scenario yesterday, with the police behaving as though they were out to apprehend a terrorist, is absurd and will present the impression that Malaysia is a police state. Malaysia is again the laughingstock internationally with the credibility of it’s judiciary and police tainted and it’s claim as a democratic nation, questionable.

  21. #21 by limkamput on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:58 am

    We have not forgiven Mahathir for whatever he has done to this country and who is this Mahathir’s cock son to talk so much cock in parliament.

  22. #22 by gundam on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:58 am

    RPK is arrested and will be charged.

  23. #23 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:59 am

    Uncle Lim and Anwar (and their parties) did not really strike back. Am I correct to say that they let UMNO act so that BN will be on a real suicide mission?

  24. #24 by Samuel Goh Kim Eng on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 12:00 pm

    With your phone in your hand you just dial
    With right number you get nation on a trial
    Those out of favour are served with arrests
    With classical examples that all can attest

    (C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng – 170708
    Thur. 17th July 2008.

  25. #25 by limkamput on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 12:00 pm

    Augustine was a great saint. Pual was a great too. [deleted]

  26. #26 by riversandlakes on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 12:02 pm

    Down with tyranny! Release Anwar!

  27. #27 by sA1nT_Jam3s on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 12:15 pm

    Dear Mr.Honorable PM,

    Please save the country! Please do not continue to rape the institutions -Judiciary and Legislature- be honorable and clean out the mess like how you promised many years ago..

    Clean out the warlords as well..I am sure many rational M’sians would not oppose for the sake of opposing..take out those arrogant MPs, uncouth and uneducated in the ways of a civilised democratic world.

    Dont just clean 1 or 2 to patronise us…
    Dont even tempt to protect them by saying that they were elcted by the people..

    We want capable and clean people in the Legislature
    and it will follow that
    the Executive will have capable people
    and let the Judiciary do their job in accordance with our Constitution and laws

    Save us from spiralling into anarchy
    Save us from all this silly sodomy circus
    Give us the truth about the murders
    Please dont leave us to the dogs after 2010..

    As Malaysian, I fear..

  28. #28 by Captain on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 12:27 pm

    Malaysians are basically extremely disturbed by these developments that in the longer run will not only consume UMNO but also the Police, the legal system and the judiciary. These three will be the real ‘suspects’ that would on trial if Anwar is prosecuted.

    If Pakatan comes to power, the likely is very soon, where I wonder these police and those prosecuting at the AG office will run to hide, guantanamo? The Police and BN must be reminded that ‘when going gets tough, the tough gets going’.

    BN should stop taking malaysians as fools. The recent amendment making abnormal sex offence punishable by 20 heafty years and stroke seems really like they were preparing for Anwar.

    I do not know where to hide my face when I go overseas. Looks like we getting really famous for being sodomy country. Thats hell of a Islamic Hadhari gift to all Malaysians

  29. #29 by cheng on on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 12:58 pm

    Someone commented in other blog that, the 1999 conviction of sodomy case (later quashed by higher court), is the only sodomy conviction in msia, (since 1957) true or not? bcos almost impossible to prove such case?

  30. #30 by azisirikit on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 1:11 pm

    The same key people involve. We, the people are ready to wipe all these shit! Get Ready!

  31. #31 by Toyol on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 1:58 pm

    Its really so stupid. Only today, Ng Yen Yen said that homosexuals must be given help! If thats the case, DSAI (if he is gay) must also be given help and NOT arrested. Why the double standards? Is Ng Yen Yen trying to support DSAI indirectly?

  32. #32 by lovemalaysiaforever on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 2:28 pm

    In justice we fight until we die!!!! Reform!!!!

    Doomed the BN goons…ur time will be ending already!!!

  33. #33 by wanderer on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 3:02 pm

    Chapter 2:
    Youngstud mamak carrying on the dirty works of the wornout Ole fart mamak, Sr M failed in their first attempt to get Anwar convicted, have to try again by Jr M or they loose their fine reputation as A** specialist.
    ‘Marriage of convenience’ joined now, by the privileged SOB of the PM to get access to police report in advance so as to gain advantage in Parliamentary debate on the alleged sodomy case against Anwar. The main actors, the rotten AG and IGP ‘the famous twisters’ are standing on the sideline, ready to do the twisting and the turnings when the time arrives. What sort of trial can we expect from a kangaroo court?
    Bring back to memory a replay of 1999.

  34. #34 by taiking on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 3:30 pm

    This second time round, those idiots in UMNO better nail anwar with some real and believable evidence and do it in an impartial and transparent fashion. That is if they can.

    If they fail (and note that the room for perceived failure is very large – real and believable evidence, impartial trial, transparent process – none of which the judiciary and the law enforcer are currently known for), anwar’s position will surely strengthened further.

    If those idiots have any doubts at all about the complaint against anwar, they jolly well refrain from moving any further than taking his statement. They may salvage their position a little by maintaining status quo that way.

    If they want to play it dangerous, and persist with charge and trial and finally fail (remember securing a conviction can also be perceived as a failure by UMNO given the current sentiments) then god only knows what will happen.

    I hope those UMNO idiots use their head a little bit more.

  35. #35 by BoycottLocalPapers on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 5:03 pm

    This UMNO government is so wicked and evil that I wish President George Bush will send US Marines to remove them from power.


  36. #36 by A Malaysian on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 5:48 pm

    “BoycottLocalPapers Says:
    This UMNO government is so wicked and evil that I wish President George Bush will send US Marines to remove them from power.”

    It is UMNO wish that US would say something, as harsh as possible – SO THAT THEY CAN LINK/LABEL ANWAR TO U.S. / Israel.

    Govt will do anything to make themselves look stupid in the hope that U.S. would issue some statements where you could use it as weapon… So beware….

  37. #37 by ReformMalaysia on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 5:55 pm

    The title of debate between Anwar Ibrahim and Shabary Cheek-Information minister

    BUTwhat actually happened was :


  38. #38 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 6:59 pm

    lupus Says:

    Today at 11: 53.38 (7 hours ago)
    “Anwar cannot get a fair trail in Malaysia and UNMO themselves are responsible for this. Why ? An elected MP of the Govt have been talking about it …”

    It is res judicata against sub judice.

  39. #39 by badak on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 8:39 pm

    RPK was charged in court today…Look at the bright side ..If RPK has solid evidence.This is the best time to produce it in court.This case alone can and will be the downfall of the BN Goverment.
    If there is no solid evidence then all blogers will be painted with the same brush.

  40. #40 by AhPek on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 9:13 pm

    What about Azalina? RPK has referred to her as Azalina lesbian when he was giving a police statement when called up to the police station for questioning when Mike Tyson made a report against him for not respecting The Agong and Islam more than a year ago.
    Why is she not pulled up under laws of section 377a of the Malaysian Constitution? Worse still Bodohwee is keeping her in his cabinet!

  41. #41 by bennylohstocks on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 10:19 pm

    has all the answers


  42. #42 by cheng on on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 10:25 pm

    WHY, the police is not even ready to show Anwar the police report lodge by that as…le saiful, Why?? Do the police want to amend or fine tune this report after taking statement from Anwar?? Very Fishy lah!

  43. #43 by KennyGan on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 10:58 pm

    Farish A. Noor said, “For even the slightest hint of bias or irregularity will add credence to Anwar’s claim that the accusations against him are part of a political plot to prevent him from returning to politics”

    But there’s already a heavy stench of conspiracy in the way the police refused to give DSAI a copy of the police report and insisting on DSAI giving them an unnecessary blood sample when they already have his DNA on record.

  44. #44 by philip vyti on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:00 pm

    Its a circus again. I wonder if A Paul’s expertise and services is on standby. When will BN learn to get on with governing the country. Petronas has dished out its dues. This should be given as a dividend to the people but its now going into the pockets of BN/Umno to be squandered as has been done with all the years of profits from Petronas. One last word, finally we are now been givena peep into what the govt gets from petronas whereas all this while it was under OSA

  45. #45 by mendela on Thursday, 17 July 2008 - 11:29 pm

  46. #46 by dawsheng on Friday, 18 July 2008 - 12:44 am

    Anwar should up the ante, he should be in the parliament within 2 months, there is no better time.

  47. #47 by stnaaron on Friday, 18 July 2008 - 12:13 pm

    i am a non muslim but i will pray the god to secure this nation from going down to the drain.

    many of our non muslim nation are praying for anwar when he was arrested by the authorities on thusday.

    good luck DSAI the nation are behind your back….

  48. #48 by shamshul anuar on Saturday, 19 July 2008 - 11:20 am

    Dear stnaaron,

    The truth shall prevail at the end of the day. Perhaps you are not aware that vast majority of Malays wish that Anwar swear in the name of Allah.

    It is the ultimate act declaring one’s honesty as recognised by Muslim community. If I do not commit the act as accused, why Imust be reluctant to swear in the name of Allah of my innocence.

    This will enhance my case though it does not have legal implication.

    The truth is that what USA and some people only considers justice prevail if Anwar is found not guilty. That is their definition of justice.

  49. #49 by tourman53 on Monday, 28 July 2008 - 3:45 am

    Now which is fair in islamic law to prove adultery or being homosexual

    1) seen by 4 eye witnesses

    2) Swear in front the Koran or Religious man

    3) or both 1 & 2

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