Reuters/BBC: Malaysia's Anwar in court for corruption appeal
By Reuters, BBC
4/2/2002 1:21 pm Mon
[Rencana Reuters ini turut disiarkan di CNN di bawah tajuk
CNN: Anwar begins final appeal - Editor]
Malaysia's Anwar in court for corruption appeal
04 Feb 2002 01:38
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Malaysia's former deputy prime
minister Anwar Ibrahim arrived at the Federal Court in Kuala Lumpur
on Monday to begin his final appeal against corruption convictions,
his first public appearance in months.
In bright morning sunshine Anwar, who has a slipped disc in his
back, declined the use of a wheelchair and walked slowly up the
court steps, helped on either side by uniformed police officers.
A couple of dozen supporters shouted slogans as Anwar entered
the court complex overlooking Merdeka Square, where some 100
police and riot control squad members watched from beside a water
"We are going to argue on political conspiracy, male fide (bad faith)
and expunging of evidence favourable to us," Anwar's family
lawyer Sankara Nair told Reuters outside the court.
Once next in line to lead the country, Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohamad sacked Anwar in September 1998, the day after imposing
wide-ranging capital controls and pegging the ringgit currency to
the dollar in response to the Asian financial crisis.
Anwar, who had been finance minister, was arrested later the same
month and charged on counts of corruption and sodomy for which
he was eventually sentenced to consecutive terms of six and nine
Mahathir's former deputy is appealing both charges, saying they
were cooked up by his political enemies to thwart his progress.
The prime minister says the trials were fair, and has called Anwar
immoral and unfit to rule.
Anwar's court appearance in 1998 carrying bruises and a black
eye, and the subsequent trials, sparked outrage from opposition
groups, foreign governments and human rights groups. The United
States called him a political prisoner.
Federal Court judges at Monday's proceedings, which are due to
run until Thursday, may rule immediately or reserve their decision
for weeks or even months.
Even if Anwar were acquitted, he would remain in jail on the
Regardless of what happens, Anwar seems doomed to watch his
rival and former mentor enjoy surging support in the wake of the
September 11 air attacks on the United States.
The 76-year-old Mahathir has garnered support as the focus
moved from Anwar, whose supporters include the religiously purist
Parti Islam se-Malaysia, to the issue of whether Malaysia is
threatened by Islamic militants.
Sunday, 3 February, 2002, 23:49 GMT
Malaysia's Anwar in appeal court battle
By Kean Wong in Kuala Lumpur
In his first public appearance in months, Anwar Ibrahim is expected
to be in court on Monday in a wheelchair wearing neck and back
Suffering from a slipped disc and other ailments, the former deputy
prime minister of Malaysia is pursuing his final appeal against
corruption convictions at the Federal Court.
The court is across the road from the square where in September
1998 he led the largest anti-government rally ever seen in Kuala
But unlike before, even Mr Anwar's loyal supporters are not
expecting thousand-strong crowds to show up outside the
courthouse this time.
According to one of Mr Anwar's team of lawyers, Sankara Nair, the
proceedings this week are due to run for four days.
A minimum bench of three judges may deliver an immediate
judgement or may reserve their decision for weeks afterwards.
Mr Sankara hopes the proceedings will go ahead this time after
three previous postponements.
He said he shared Mr Anwar's "reserved optimism" that the High
Court conviction in 1999 would be overturned.
"The man is in jail, he's not on bail, and therefore justice delayed is
justice denied. And it's become a pattern - every time a trial comes
up there's an increased level of harassment," said Mr Sankara.
"I've always felt it was a form of mental torture, technique, to rattle
him and to affect his train of thought.
"This time around we have given 34 grounds of appeal and we're
arguing that much evidence given in favour of Anwar was not
considered. We've complained about the moving of the goalposts
and how the original judge had expunged evidence. We're also
raising the role of the attorney-general. These are the issues for
Three years after the controversial sacking and jailing of Mr Anwar,
much has changed in Malaysian politics.
The reformasi (or reform) movement he inspired has dissipated, with
several of its leaders detained without trial under the Internal
Security Act (ISA) for allegedly promoting insurrections against the
The once-dynamic alliance of opposition parties known as the
Barisan Alternatif (BA) is in disarray.
The party forged in the heat of the reformasi movement - Keadilan
or the National Justice Party - is still led by Mr Anwar's wife, Dr
Wan Azizah Ismail, but senior defections have severely dented its
impact and morale.
The momentum for political reform has also been unexpectedly reset
by last year's 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.
Mr Anwar's long-time mentor and now nemesis, Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad, has enjoyed a resurgence of approval since
11 September, adroitly exploiting Malaysian fears of a militant
Islamic opposition and the global economic uncertainty.
The prime minister has partly won back a burgeoning middle-class
that once flirted with the BA, as a landslide victory at a recent
Dr Mahathir has also moved quickly against what he alleges is a
broader militant Islamic conspiracy against his government.
The police had already detained without trial scores of opposition
and Muslim activists before 11 September, accusing them of plotting
the violent overthrow of the government.
Since the beginning of the American-led campaign against
terrorism, the police have rounded up more Muslims, who are
allegedly part of a shadowy militant group trained in weapons in
Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The police have warned off a further 200 Malaysians, who are
apparently under surveillance.
Several of them are allegedly part of south-east Asia's al-Qaeda
terrorist network that was planning to bomb US interests in the
Unsurprisingly, with this development, Anwar and his plight have
slipped out of domestic and international focus.
While the United States maintains it continues to view Mr Anwar's
jailing as politically-motivated, the pressure on Dr Mahathir's
government has eased in the wake of the campaign against
terrorism as security cooperation improves between the two
But closer ties with Malaysia's biggest security and trading partner
in the new climate may not be enough to overcome the deep
divisions still apparent in the majority Malay-Muslim community,
even though the prime minister has rebuilt support among the
critical non-Muslim minorities of ethnic Chinese, Indian and
Many Malays unhappy with Dr Mahathir's treatment of his former
deputy support the Islamist PAS, the dominant opposition party.
However, the prime minister has been fond of taking calculated
risks, which has led to growing speculation about a possible early
general election next year.
He hopes to capitalise on the opposition's disarray and the
electorate's fears of rising Islamic militancy in opposition ranks.
Though according to a leader in Dr Mahathir's party "the Anwar
issue isn't centre-stage any more", few have been prepared to
dismiss Mr Anwar's impact on electoral calculations for next year.
As a result, this week's appeal process will be instructive for many