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KQ: Justice Continued To Be Denied To Anwar
By Kim Quek
16/1/2002 1:52 pm Wed
JUSTICE CONTINUED TO BE DENIED TO ANWAR
The black hand of the Executive once again reared its ugly head when former
Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's final appeal against his first
conviction was postponed (third postponement) for a totally unacceptable
Of all the persons in this world, the newly appointed Attorney General Gani
Patail was the least qualified to use 'unpreparedness' as an excuse to
postpone the hearing, for he was the king pin of the infamous prosecutions
against Anwar, right from the very inceptions to the conclusions, ending in
15 years of imprisonment for Anwar.
Gani should be the person most thoroughly familiar with the case, up to the
most intimate details, being present in the very same police headquarters in
Bukit Aman, when Anwar was beaten to near death there by the former Police
Chief of Malaysia, Rahim Noor, on the very day Anwar was arrested on 20th
September 1998. Gani was also the central figure in a case within a case,
when Anwar's lawyers applied to have Gani removed as prosecutor for his
alleged role in coercing (with a death penalty) Anwar's tennis partner
Nallakarupan to fabricate evidence against Anwar. Gani's alleged criminal
role was critically questioned by the Federal Court (highest court) on 28th
June 2001 when it quashed a 'contempt of court' conviction on Anwar's
lawyer Zainur, arising from the application to remove Gani as prosecutor.
(Gani has not to date answered this accusation of fabrication of evidence
Apart from Gani's personal familiarity with this case, the entire Attorney
General's Chambers cannot possibly be excused for being unprepared, for
this Appeal was originally scheduled for hearing in the year 2000, and was
postponed again in the year 2001. Now is the year 2002, why should the
prosecutors be unprepared for it? Gani's excuse that he 'was newly
appointed and had very little time to prepare for the case' must be
condemned with the utmost contempt.
Lest we forget, Anwar has been languishing in jail in solitary confinement
for the past three and a half years, while he should have been out on bail
all this while, if due process of law had been allowed to take its place.
During this time, he has gone through hell and fire, right from the moment
he was arrested when he was beaten to near death. He went through the agony
of two long trials, which were universally condemned as manifest travesty of
justice. Then the looming danger of a slow death through arsenic poisoning,
stopped only when the poison was discovered in a laboratory in Australia.
For the past one and a half year, he has been suffering continuous
excruciating pain due to a spinal injury, due to being denied the medical
treatment of his choice. He is now reduced to the wheel chair. And now, in
protest against the indefinite postponement, he has begun to fast, until a
new hearing date is fixed. Needless to say, his continuing fasting will
cause his frail physical conditions to deteriorate rapidly.
At this moment, when almost everyone's attention is captured by the daily
unfolding news on terrorism, it is pertinent to refresh our memory on the
circumstances surrounding Mahathir's strike against his anointed successor
almost 4 years ago.
Malaysia was then in the deepest moment of its financial and economic
crisis, along with other countries in the region. Suharto had just been
toppled by angry masses when Indonesia's economy crumpled in a heap of
debts due to massive corruption and cronyism and reckless spending.
Malaysia's position looked precarious, having been afflicted by the same
ailment, albeit on a lesser scale.
The Malaysian currency had crashed. So had the stock market, amidst
scandalous dealings by the powerful, most notably the siphoning of massive
cash from UEM through purchase of Renong shares from certain mysterious
sellers. (This resulted in Halim Saad committing the now famous RM 3.2
billion put option to UEM to pacify the panicky investing public. This put
option is now cancelled by the Government, after it had acquired UEM, in
another massive bail out operation to rescue Halim Saad and the Renong
Many large scale crony enterprises became insolvent, which prompted the
powers that be to pour in billions of public funds to the rescue. It is in
these massive bailing out of cronies that the conflict between Anwar and the
Mahathir V Daim axis became intensified.
As the then Minister of Finance acting on public interests, Anwar resisted
these sweeping bailouts, thus incurring the wrath of Mahathir and Daim, who
saw Anwar as a major threat to the survival of their business empires.
Among many instances of conflicts, a notable case that aroused Mahathir's
anger was when Anwar slashed the cash payout to Mahathir's son Mirzam by
State owned Petronas from RM 2.2 billion to RM 1.7 billion to acquire
Mirzam's ships, which was a totally unjustified transaction, motivated
purely by the desire to bail Mirzam out from his financial predicament.
Fearing that Malaysia was fast going down the drain the Indonesian way as
investors' confidence had collapsed, UMNO Youth, apparently acting under
the sanction of Anwar, decided to make a move to change UMNO's course by
calling for a war against corruption, cronyism and nepotism in the UMNO
Annual Conference in mid 1998. This battle cry sent shivers down the spine
of the Mahathir V Daim axis. The final decision was made. Anwar was to be
Immediately after being sacked from the Cabinet and UMNO on the first days
of September 1998, Anwar counter-struck by exposing massive corruption and
abuse of power at the top echelon in speeches attended by record crowds all
over the Country. It is noteworthy that in the ensuing Reformasi movement
launched by him during the few precious days of freedom that he had before
being arrested on 20th September, its platform was not confined to fighting
corruption, but the restoration of justice and democracy, which had been
almost totally destroyed by Mahathir through creeping legislation and
usurpation of other independent institutions during his long reign.
Anwar's cries of Reformasi have awakened a new generation of Malays to the
folly of blindly supporting the UMNO leadership purely on racial
considerations. Widespread corruptions to enrich a few Malay elites have
not only failed to uplift the economic status of the vast majority of
Malays, but have corroded the morals of the Malaysian society and lowered
the efficiency of the public as well as the private sectors. Widespread
financial failures wrought by the Asian Crisis, especially among the Malay
business community, has convinced many Malays that their political struggles
must not be purely a case of UMNO vs other races. From now on, Malays must
struggle together with other races to eliminate corrupt leadership, restore
morality and improve governance.
And so, through his downfall and sufferings, Anwar has ushered in a
watershed in Malaysian politics, in that the Malays have broken free of
UMNO's racial and feudal bondage. This was convincingly demonstrated by
the landslide migration of Malay votes from UMNO to the Opposition in the
last General Election. To this day, the hostility of the academic community
and the civil service towards Mahathir and UMNO has stood in contrast to
their empathy towards Anwar.
In spite of Anwar's trials, convictions and imprisonment, his impeccable
record of personal honesty and his image of an untiring fighter for the
have-nots have continued to endear him to the Malay masses as well as to the
non-Malays who have been enlightened by his moral leadership. Equally, his
outstanding leadership has stood well with leaders all over the world.
In advanced societies like Japan and the western countries, national leaders
can come and go frequently without adversely affecting the well being of the
people. But in a developing country (such as Malaysia), which invariably
struggles hard to gain economic advancement and political maturity, the
quality of its top leadership is often the pivotal factor to whether the
country can succeed in its endeavours.
It is not often that a developing country is blessed with a good leader.
When we have one among our midst, can we afford to let him perish with our
indifference and inaction?
Anwar has sacrificed all he has to uphold his principles and defend the
interests of his country, the least the people can do is to demonstrate
their solidarity with him resoundingly with words and deeds at this
desperate hour, when his very life may be hanging on a thread.