One of the problems of being around on this planet for a while is that one begins to see most things in a slightly skewed perspective. You look back in time to context current events. The successes others around you are constantly exulting in do not impress you that much simply because you know tomorrow always comes
whether Garth Brooks wants it or not. No, it doesn’t mean one is a cynic or a disparager. It only means one learns from history. If we don’t, as the wit said, we are condemned to repeat our mistakes.The anti-corruption movement that seemed to start with a lot of promise is now in the danger of being obliterated by the state-sponsored dirty-tricks department itself. Not that one hadn’t expected this. I myself have maintained that politicians — of all hues and shapes and parties —
can never accept the clauses contained in the draft, for it affects their very survival, but the ferocity of attack from all flanks on those who are spearheading the campaign is unbelievable.The shameless manner in which the ruling party has gone about discrediting the non-political members of the committee has shocked almost everybody with a semblance of civility. I was, honestly,
As expected, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was asked to defend himself against sodomy charges that he says were framed by Prime Minister Najib Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor in a bid to destroy his political career
“How can the BN let go such an opportunity to further smear and tarnish Anwar,” PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
On the political downcycle, Najib has been accused by pundits of resorting to gutter politics to attack his opponents. Desperate to maintain his position in his Umno party, he has given the green light to a series of conspiracies that have dragged the nation through mud and created angst and unhappines amongst races.
The most recent scandals that his administration has been accused of trumping up are the sex video scandal against Anwar, where Anwar was accused of adultery with a female prostitute.
When the drama began to pall, his Umno-owned newspaper Utusan accused the Christian leaders in the country of conspiring with Anwar’s Pakatan Rakyat coalition to replace Islam with Christianity as the official religion.
“Never before has Malaysia reached such a low level as now,” BUkit Gantang MP Nizar Jamaluddin told Malaysia Chronicle. ”This is the most shameful and degrading period ever in our history for the Malays and we have Najib and Rosmah to thank for it. Malaysians want peace. They want to have right to choose, otherwise what for have elections at all. Accept the people’s choice and stop using all these low-down blows to go after Anwar, PAS and Pakatan.”
Najib is expected to call for snap general elections before the end of this year.
Meanwhile, controversial Judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah called for trial to begin from June 6 to 30, saying he was satisfied a prima facie case had been established.
“No reason for this court not to accept evidence in this case,” Mohamad Zabidin told the court on Monday.
Another dark day for Malaysia
The 64-year old Anwar was accused of sodomising his personal aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 25, at a plush condo on June 26, 2008 just weeks after Anwar announced his decision to make a parliamentary comeback.
If convicted, Anwar stands to be imprisioned for not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years under section 377B of the Penal Code.
Scores of Anwar supporters had packed the cortroom from as early as 4.30am. Many were from his constituency of Permatang Pauh in Penang. They were obviously upset by the ruling, which they felt insulted the Opposition Leader given the flimsiness of the charges that have been lambasted by world leaders from the United States, UK, Canada, Australia, Sweden to Ireland.
PKR leaders called for calm. Anwar’s wife and PKR president Wan Azizah told the media that it was another dark day for justice in the country.
Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah told Malaysia Chronicle the party would soon let the public know what would next be the course of action. “Everyone, please stay calm. We just have to keep fighting on,” he said.
Meanwhile, Anwar’s lawyer Sankara Nair said the defence would call Najib and Rosmah Mansor to the stand to be grilled for their part in the conspiracy.
The complainant Saiful had met Najib two days before lodging the police complaint that eventually led to Anwar’s arrest. The prime minister had initially denied ever knowing Saiful but as photos of Saiful and his own aides began appearing in cyberspace, Najib U-turned and admitted to the meeting. Sodomy is a crime in Malaysia.
“We may call 30 defence witnesses,” said Sankara, expressing disappointment at the judge’s decision which he said was baseless.
What the judge said
In a speech lasting nearly two hours, the judge read from case notes and pointed out key events in the case.
“What was needed to be proved is a prima facie case, credible evidence to ingredient of offence, whether Saiful was a credible witness” said Mohamad Zabidin.
“It was not surprising defence had tried to paint a picture of Saiful as someone who has zero credibility. With greatest respect, I find this irrelevant. Saiful followed instructions of accused after incident, did not immediately lodge police report. He was given preferential treatment in the office, compared to senior colleagues. Saiful is a young man, not just any employee but personal assistant to the accused.”
“I find Saiful’s evidence remains intact. I find him to be a good, true witness, evidence is reliable, if accepted can be used. After finding Saiful credible, not affected by failure to run away or not report, the question is whether opportunity for the act to take place.”
“I find accused and complainant at crime scene, opportunity for crime to take place. (Tne) chemist’s evidence shows swabs taken from Saiful. These swabs confirmed presence of semen. All three doctors testified positively, conclude there was penile penetration. I find nothing inconsistent with doctors’ findings.”
“I find nothing inconsistent with doctors’ findings. The other crucial evidence is DNA evidence. The accused was the last occupant in cell before towel, mineral water bottle, toothbrush was taken for DNA sampling.”
What the defense said
To Anwar’s lawyers, it was clear the Judge only saw what he wanted to see and ignored all the rest. They pointed out that initially Anwar was initially charged for ‘raping’ Saiful in that there was physical compulsion involved.
Yet, it is impossible for the 64-year old and frail Anwar to physically force Saiful, who is a well-built 6-footer and the charge was quickly and controversially amended to consensual although Saiful has stuck to saying Anwar had compelled him. Saiful also never explained why, if it was not consensual, did he not run away from Anwar.
“The judge just skirted around the conflicts in the issue. He also talked about Saiful’s character and yet somehow forgot about Saiful’s romance with Farah Azalina, the deputy public prosecutor, during the trial and how they kept the romance secret from the court. Is a man who two-timed his fiancee with a newly-met DPP a man with good character?” one the defense team told Malaysia Chronicle.
“The judge talked about the Hospoital Kuala Lumpur doctors’ report and how the doctors agreed there was penetration. He does not mention the initial HKL report had denied any penetration at all. The judge also never took into account the doctor’s testimony from the Pusrawi Hospital, which again clearly states no penetration. He never mentioned at all why the prosecution refused to allow the Pusrawi doctor to testify.”
“As for the toothbrush, mineral water bottle and towel, did the judge remember that even he himself had rejected them as sampling items for DNA matching because they were illegally taken from Anwar and the samples were kept for days in the Investigating Officer’s drawer before being sent to the Chemistry De[partment. This would surely have caused degradation. How can such unreliable samples be allowed? Then the judge completely ignores the DNA analysis sheets which showed the presence of DNA belonging to more than two men in Saiful’s anus. Five unidentified male DNA was found. Yet, the judge completely ignores this factor. How can such a thing happen unless either Saiful was a sex maniac or DNA was planted on the swabs.”
Like most Bengalis I am elated Mamata Banerjee has won. She is a gutsy person and has built her organisation from scratch to take on the mighty Left citadel which she brought crashing down last friday. The media which abandoned its neutrality in politics a long time back celebrated her victory with as much delight as her Trinamool workers playing Holi on the streets. I may be however forgiven for feeling a bit disappointed that journalists, unlike in my time, have abjured their impartial roles and become as much a part of politics as party workers. Newspapers, magazines, news channels today side with political parties at election time making it difficult for common people to separate facts from propaganda, truth from disinformation. I hated the media’s original rejection of Mamata and bootlicking of the Left as much as I dislike their new found love for her and hatred of the Left.
The media’s job is to inform. It is up to you and me to assess that information and decide who we want to support. Mamata with her easy, street smart charm could have easily won this battle on her own. Just as Gautam Deb would have easily lost the battle for the Left by his aggressive, uncouth posturing. The media needed to referee the confrontation instead of conjoining it. But that’s another matter. I am happy Mamata won and gave the Left a rest after 34 years of running West Bengal, largely into the ground. But the funny thing is: I recall when the Left Government came to power and Jyoti Basu became chief minister, he said exactly the same things Mamata is saying today and we applauded him exactly as we are applauding Mamata now. People flowed out onto the streets to celebrate the victory of the red revolution. Just as they are doing today, to celebrate Trinamool’s green revolution.
Tamil Nadu is the same. I hear Jayalalitha saying the same things today, to thunderous applause, that I heard Karunanidhi say when she was chucked out by the electorate and the DMK came in with so much hope and fanfare. The first thing Jayalalitha said on Friday after her landslide victory was: The people of Tamil Nadu have voted out corruption. Those were the exact first words of Karunanidhi when he defeated her last time. She was then seen as the symbol of corruption. Many bribery cases were filed against her. Today, she admonishes the DMK with precisely the same words and the electorate loves it. It’s not only because of our collective amnesia. It’s also because a new generation of voters comes out in every election with no memory of the past. It’s charming to see their gullibility and hope, their dreams of change.
Actually our choices are very limited in most polls. We are forced to decide between really awful people. The “none of the above” button which voters have been demanding for ages has still not been given presumably because there’s a fear that most voters will actually press it. As a result, a consortium of crooks, rascals and fixers run our polity with shameless disregard for issues of morality and public trust. Luckily, the nation has finally woken up to the fact that it’s possible to resist them, punish them, put them behind bars with a little bit of help from institutions like the Supreme Court which still function with their head held high in an environment where most crawl on all fours and seek favours from the corrupt. No wonder there’s so much of anger and angst all around.
Elections give people a chance to vent their ire, to show their power. To prove that our democracy still flourishes despite so many disappointments and disconnects. Mamata’s victory, the DMK’s abject defeat, the Left losing both Kerala and West Bengal, Gogoi’s third term, the Karnataka by-elections: all these are signs that India is doing well. We know how to use the ballot to win back the freedoms we occasionally misplace. But, yes, we also need to remember our past so that we make the right choices. We need to learn the lessons history teaches us. That’s the only way we can look ahead with courage and faith instead of wallowing in self pity, flagellating ourselves for our many failures. If we make mistakes, as indeed we often do, we know that we can always right them at the next polls