ONLY FIFTY BEGGERS FOR SAIFOOL INCLUDING KATAKS ROSLAN KASSIM
THE POLITICISATION OF SEXUALITY AS A POLITICAL WEAPON AS SEEN FOR THE SECOND TIME IN THE CASE OF DATUK SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM. THE CASE HIGHLIGHTS THE CONTINUOUS USAGE OF THE ARCHAIC AND OUTDATED SODOMY LAW TO PERSECUTE AN INDIVIDUAL OF HIS PERSONAL DIGNITY AND POLITICAL AMBITIONS. WE REMAIN CONCERN OVER THE ACT OF POLITICISING SEXUALITY AND THE USAGE OF SODOMY LAWS AS A TOOL FOR IT VIEWS THAT CRIMINALISING ANY FORM OF PRIVATE CONSENSUAL SEX BETWEEN ADULTS AND THE ACT OF POLITICISING AND MANIPULATING ANY SEXUAL BEHAVIORS FOR A POLITICAL DECISION SHALL BE CONDEMNED AS A HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION AND AN INVASION OF PRIVACY AND PERSONAL DIGNITY. CALLS FOR THE ABOLITION OF OUR OUTDATED SODOMY LAWS
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.”
Another source told Asia Sentinel it is uncertain if the prosecution will appeal. “The government may just want to put it behind them,” he said.
The case obviously hands Anwar a huge political victory. It in effect became a trap for the government rather than for Anwar, who denounced it as politically motivated.
“The government faced an unappetizing choice,” the lawyer said in a telephone interview. “They were damned if they convicted, damned if they didn’t. Only the judge himself knows if he followed his conscience.”
Given the political ramifications of the verdict, it could thus be a problem for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who has been accused by Anwar and others of manufacturing the case in a bid to drive him from politics. To the suspicious, the verdict does not demonstrate the independence of Malaysia’s courts but rather that the government ordered the acquittal by the judge as the lesser of two unappetizing choices. If that is true, Umno figures have to be questioning the prime minister’s strategy, since it has clearly backfired.
“They are in a trap of their own making,” said a business executive. “But they may step up their campaign to undermine Anwar in other ways.”
“What they don’t get is that their whole strategy was misguided from the get go,” the executive continued. “
They focused all their might to destroy Anwar, thinking that if they jail him, Pakatan falls apart.
What they missed is that this is no longer about one man. There’s a mass movement here now, sparked by the 2008 elections. It’s beyond Anwar now. It’s about how Umno deals with an energized electorate.”
“Thank God justice has been served,” Anwar told cheering crowds after the verdict, vowing to topple the government in national elections, which are expected to be held this year.
Because of the vast number of questions about the case, international observers almost universally condemned it. Among those inconsistencies were the fact that the complaining witness, Mohamad Saiful Bukhairy Azlan, had gone to two hospitals to complain he had been sodomized but was turned away by doctors who examined him and said they found no evidence of penetration. Also, during testimony in the courtroom, he acknowledged that he had met with then-Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, prior to the filing of the charges.
There were many questions about the DNA, which was allegedly taken from Saiful’s rectum 90 hours after the reported act took place, during which he said he had neither eaten, drunk nor gone to the bathroom. The evidence was stored in an unguarded police office. Government laboratory technicians testified that as many as 11 different DNA traces had been found in Saiful’s rectum.
There were even questions whether Saiful had actually met with Anwar on the date he allegedly was sodomized. Although cameras showed him in the lift of the building where the offence allegedly took place, Anwar said he was meeting with a group of economists in the condo at the time and that Saiful had not appeared in the room.
The case began when the then-24-year-old former aide made the charge against the opposition leader on June 29, 2008, shortly after Anwar had led the Pakatan Rakyat coalition to a historic sweep of five Malaysian states, winning 82 parliamentary seats in 2008 national elections and breaking the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition’s two-thirds majority hold on parliament for the first time since the country was founded.
Anwar was arrested at his home on July 16 of that year by a contingent of 10 carloads of police commandos and was locked up overnight in a Kuala Lumpur jail. The case has kept Anwar preoccupied for a full two and a half years.
“I’m finally vindicated after the smearing of my character,” Anwar told local media. “I’m thankful to Wan Azizah and the team of lawyers led by Karpal Singh. He also thanked the support of Pakatan Rakyat leaders. “We want to continue on the reform agenda, fighting corruption, and freedom of the press.”
Three-and-half years after Saiful Bukhari Azlan made his first police report on June 28, 2008, the trial ended today. The High Court found Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim not guilty of sodomising his former aide Saiful.
It is worthwhile to revisit the political context of the case, especially events that happened between April and July 2008.
Lest we forget, on March 8, 2008, voters created a political tsunami by denying Barisan Nasional’s its two-thirds parliamentary majority and giving the opposition five states to rule.
With hindsight, the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is to be credited for his immediate acceptance of the electoral results in the wee hours of March 9, 2008, as seen by many Malaysians on national television.
But not all Umno leaders agreed with him. Not only did they blame Abdullah for the disastrous outing, many thought that Umno could have done “something” to undo the election results.
Two opposing camps advanced diverging strategies. On the one hand, the moderates accepted the fact that Malaysia was effectively a two-party state and that the opposition was the legitimate opponent to be respected and not enemy of the state to be crushed. The hardliners advocated the reverse.
The hardliners thought they could destroy the opposition with a three-pronged strategy: eliminating Anwar from the political scene, luring PAS to join BN’s fold, and demonising the DAP as a Chinese chauvinist party to scare the Malay voters.
On April 14, 2008, at a rally at the Sultan Sulaiman Club to mark his return to active politics, Anwar added an unexpected element to the confusion. He claimed that Pakatan Rakyat could easily form the next federal government.
“We are saying here for the first time that we are ready (to rule the country). But we will only enter when the majority is comfortable,” he said. In the ensuing months, Anwar repeated the claim, which was supposed to culminate on September 16, 2008.
On May 19, 2008, another bombshell was unleashed. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad quit Umno, citing Prime Minister Abdullah as the culprit for the BN’s disastrous electoral performance.
Abdullah was being pulled from both ends. Anwar was courting the moderate forces in the government to leave BN while the hardliners, who coalesced around Dr Mahathir, were plotting to unseat Abdullah.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is usually cautious, was unlikely to have made up his mind then.
I met Najib at the 7th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 1, 2008 and had a 10-minute conversation with him before he took the podium to address the meeting.
He told me he had nothing to do with the Altantuya case, he was not a racist; and in the post-election new environment, it was time to think about co-operation with the “opposition” state governments.
When I told this brief conversation to friends who are familiar with Najib and the ruling elite, they were all stunned that the first thing Najib told a “stranger” like me was the Altantuya case. It was probably constantly on the back of his mind at that time.
On June 4, 2008, at a lengthy press conference, Abdullah announced that petrol price would go up by 78 sen, a 40.6 per cent jump from RM1.92 per litre to RM2.70, while the price of diesel was raised by RM1.
Instantly, the nation was galvanised. To the rakyat, a change of government was a desired outcome, the sooner the better. Support for Barisan Nasional plummeted to even lower than during the March 2008 election.
On June 18, 2008, the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), which has two seats in parliament, announced its departure from Barisan Nasional.
The ruling coalition looked like a sinking ship.
On June 23, 2008 when Parliament opened for its second sitting of the season, a motion on the fuel hike was presented by the government for debate and voting. From private conversations with BN MPs, it was clear the fuel hike had caused anger and frustration among them. Switching sides to stay afloat was not too bad an idea for some.
Having a new government in office suddenly did not seem so far fetched an idea anymore.
The next thing we heard, on Saturday, June 28, 2008, one Saiful Bukhari emerged. The rest is history.
On July 15, 2008, Anwar debated the then Information Minister Shabery Cheek about the fuel hike on live television in his capacity as the alternative prime minister. It was a hands-down victory for the Pakatan Rakyat chief.
Indeed, it was Anwar’s first positive appearance on television in a decade since he was deposed as deputy prime minister on September 2, 1998.
At midday on the following day, 10 police cars, half unmarked, with 20 balaclava-clad commandos, ambushed Anwar’s car near his house and arrested him. He was the number one enemy of the state.
The prosecution have not immediately decided on whether they will appeal Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal of a sodomy charge today.Outgoing solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden (right) toldMalaysiakini that they will discuss the outcome of the verdict.“Hopefully, the prosecution can get the judgement first to study,” he said.
Yusof led the prosecution team of senior DPPs against Anwar. He is scheduled to retire on Feb 1.
Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, took less than five minutes in deciding to acquit Anwar after deciding not to accept the DNA evidence. He had admitted the evidence when the prosecution made its case.
At the end of defence stage, the burden of proof was that the case must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Despite having accepted evidence by the government-appointed chemists Dr Seah Lay Hong(left) and Nor Aidora Saedon earlier, the court appeared to reject it after hearing evidence from Anwar’s two expert witnesses from Australia.
Lawyer Karpal Singh said he is hopeful that the prosecution will not appeal the decision.
Describing the case as one of the toughest he has ever handled, Karpal said Anwar has been vindicated.
“We call on the attorney-general not to file an appeal in this case. This is not a proper case now for an appeal.
“This is a finding of fact left by the court and I think that the matter would be left there. Anwar has suffered a lot. The trauma suffered by the family…, and they should be left alone like that. It is a great victory for the defence team and Pakatan Rakyat.”
Karpal said there is a bigger focus ahead with the forthcoming election, and the focus would be on Anwar becoming the next prime minister and in Putrajaya.
Apart from Karpal, the defence team comprised Param Cumaraswamy, CV Prabhakaran, and Sankara Nair.
Pihak pendakwaan masih belum memutuskan sama ada akan membuat rayuan berhubung keputusan penghakiman Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur yang membebaskan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim daripada pertuduhan liwat hari ini.
“Pihak pendakwaan akan menunggu penghakiman terlebih dahulu dan mengkajinya,” katanya.
Yusof mengetuai pasukan pendakwaan terhadap Anwar. Beliau dijadualkan bersara pada 1 Feb.
Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur Hakim Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, mengambil masa kurang dari lima minit dalam membuat keputusan untuk membebas dan melepaskan Anwar selepas memutuskan untuk tidak menerima bukti DNA. Beliau sebelum ini, menerima bukti berkenaan ketika dibentangkan oleh pihak pendakwaan.
Pada peringkat akhir pembelaan, beban membuktikan mesti melampaui keraguan munasabah.
Meskipun menerima bukti yang dikemukakan oleh ahli kimia yang dilantik oleh kerajaan – Dr Seah Lay Hong dan Nor Aidora Saedon(kanan), mahkamah memilih menolak kenyataan mereka selepas mendengar keterangan dari dua saksi pakar Anwar dari Australia.
Peguam Karpal Singh (kiri) berkata beliau berharap pihak pendakwaan tidak membuat akan rayuan terhadap keputusan itu.
Sambil menyifatkan kes itu sebagai antara kes yang paling sukar pernah dikendalikannya, Karpal berkata Anwar telah telah ‘dibersihkan’.
“Kami seru Peguam Negara tidak memfailkan rayuan dalam kes ini. Ini bukan kes yang sepatutnya untuk buat rayuan.
“Anwar telah banyak merana. Trauma yang dialami oleh keluarga …, dan mereka harus dibiarkan bersendirian. Ini satu kemenangan besar bagi pasukan pembelaan dan Pakatan Rakyat. “
Karpal berkata, terdapat tumpuan yang lebih besar dengan pilihan raya umum yang akan datang, dan tumpuan harus diberikan kepada Anwar supaya menjadi Perdana Menteri akan datang.
Selain dari Karpal, pasukan pembelaan yang lain terdiri daripada Param Cumaraswamy, CV Prabhakaran, dan Sankara Nair.
Standard pakar2 forensik dan DNA Malaysia dah macam tu nak buat cam na? Lagi pun pakar2 forensik Malaysia tu diarah perbetulkan benda yang salah,habis jadi cacamarbalah.
Apakah tidaknya bila ambik air mani orang lain campur dengan DNA Anwar sumbat masuk dalam juboq Saifool, lihat apa terjadi?… sampai air mani Saifool pun depa jumpa dalam juboqnya sendiri disamping air mani sepasukan bolasepak lain….
Anwar Ibrahim tidak di dapati bersalah oleh mahkamah.Pembebasan Anwar ini memberikan banyak implikasi terhadap landskap dan hala tuju politik negara dan penggiat politik tanah air. Ini di sebabkan terlalu banyak ‘hakim-hakim jalanan’ selama ini yang telah memutuskan Anwar bersalah dan akan di persorok dalam penjara.Kes ini telah dibicarakan selama lebih dari dua tahun dan dalam proses perbicaraan itu begitu ramai hakim-hakim jalanan yang memberikan ‘verdict’ yang Anwar akan di dapati bersalah dan akan dipenjarakan.
Tetapi hakim yang mutlak ialah Tuhan semesta alam yang akhirnya menggerakkan Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi untuk memberikan ‘verdict’ yang Anwar di dapati tidak bersalah.
UMNO semakin hari semakin tidak menyakinkan ialah kerana ramai di antara pemimpin-pemimpinnya tidak menunjukkan yang mereka ini adalah dari gulungan yang menggunakan fikiran dalam kehidupan politik seharian mereka. Tugas mereka hanya untuk membunuh dan menghina pihak yang tidak di gemari mereka.
UMNO dan penyokongnya tidak memerhatikan perkembangan pemikiran rakyat yang sudah jauh meningkat sedangkan mereka (UMNO) masih kekal dengan pandangan lama yang semakin hari semakin tidak mendapat perhatian ramai itu.
Apa yang terjadi di mahkamah pagi tadi memaparkan satu kekalahan besar bagi pihak yang berkuasa, iaitu anggapan Anwar yang kes sodomi 2 ini merupakan satu konspirasi politik terhadap dirinya itu adalah benar.Dan kita tidak boleh lari dari persepsi itu.
Mursyidul Am PAS, Tuan Guru Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, menasihatkan pihak yang telah memfitnah Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sebelum ini memohon maaf dengan segera.Katanya, ianya termasuk pihak media yang seolah-olah telah menggambarkan Anwar bersalah walaupun mahkamah belum membuat sebarang keputusan sebelum ini.“Para wartawan yang turut membuat fitnah terhadapnya selama inipun perlu memohon maaf dari Anwar.
“Berdosa besar dan tidak akan masuk syurga selagi tidak memohon maaf darinya,” ujarnya lagi.
Beliau berkata demikian kepada media sekembalinya dari Kuala Lumpur, di Lapangan Terbang Sultan Ismail Petra, di sini pagi ini.
Sementara itu beliau yang juga Menteri Besar Kelantan memberitahu akan menunaikan solat sunat ‘syukur’ malam ini ekoran keputusan mahkamah yang memutuskan Ketua Umum Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) itu, tidak bersalah.
Beliau juga akan berpuasa sunat sehari esok bagi melahirkan rasa syukur terhadap fitnah yang dilemparkan terhadap Anwar yang akhirnya ditamatkan dengan keputusan mahkamah hari ini.
“Mudah-mudahan fitnah politik di negara ini tidak akan berlaku lagi,” ujarnya.
In a surprising twist, Anwar Ibrahim was today acquitted by the Kuala Lumpur High Court of sodomising his former 23-year-old aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
In discharging the 64-year-old PKR de-facto leader, Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah cast doubt on the DNA evidence provided by the prosecution.
“After going through the evidence, I cannot be 100 percent certain that the evidence could have been compromised.
“Hence, the court is reluctant to convict on such corrobaration of evidence from SP1 Saiful.”
On hearing the surprise verdict, the courtroom exploded in jubilation.
Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail cried and hugged her elated husband.
In an immediate reaction, Anwar thanked his lawyers.
“I’m finally vindicated after the smearing of my character. I’m thankful to Wan Azizah and the team of lawyers led by Karpal Singh.
He also thanked the support of Pakatan Rakyat leaders.
“We want to continue on the reform agenda, fighting corruption, and freedom of the press.”
Saiful: If not in this world, in the afterworld
Meanwhile, sodomy complainant Saiful tweeted: “If not in this world, in the afterworld. I accept fate, will remain calm and continue praying.”
Anwar was represented by a team of lawyers led by Bukit Gelugor MP and DAP chairperson Karpal. Outgoing solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden led the prosecution.
Anwar, a former deputy prime minister was charged with sodomising Saiful at the Desa Damansara condominium between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.
Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera reports, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been acquitted in a surprise end to a politically-charged sodomy trial. The popular leader has called the trial a government bid to cripple his opposition ahead of upcoming polls.
The ruling by Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah set off celebrations in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, with Anwar mobbed by his wife, daughters and opposition politicians in joyous scenes.
“Thank God, justice has been served,” Anwar told reporters after the judge pronounced him not guilty.
“I feel vindicated, but we still have an agenda and a struggle. We now have to focus on the general elections,” he said.
In a posting on his Twitter feed shortly after the ruling, Anwar said: “In the coming election, (the) voice of the people will be heard and this corrupt government will be toppled from its pedestals of power.”
Thousands of Anwar supporters, who gathered outside under heavy security, erupted into cheers and raised their fists of support in the air as news of the verdict filtered out.
In his brief verdict announcement, Zabidin said he could not rely on controversial DNA evidence submitted by the prosecution.
“The court is always reluctant to convict on sexual offences without corroborative evidence. Therefore, the accused is acquitted and discharged,” he said.
It was the second sodomy verdict in a dozen years for Anwar, a former deputy premier in the 1990s, who was next in line to head the country’s long-ruling government until a spectacular downfall.
The charismatic Anwar had been groomed to succeed former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad until a bitter row between them saw Anwar ousted in 1998, beaten and jailed on sodomy and graft charges widely seen as politically motivated.
Once the sodomy charge was overturned in 2004 and he was released, the affair threw Anwar into the opposition, which he led to unprecedented gains against his former ruling party in 2008 general elections.
But the new sodomy charges emerged shortly after those polls, accusing Anwar of sodomising a former male aide, the charges sparked accusations they were concocted by the ruling United Malays National Organisation to stall the opposition revival.
Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and punishable by 20 years in jail.
Thus began 3½ gruelling years for Anwar as BN — first under Abdullah and now Najib — tried to distract Anwar’s goal of taking over power with the flimsier case of the second sodomy charge since 1998.
With today’s verdict, BN leaders should have realised that the whole thing shouldn’t have started at all. BN’s borrowed time from Saiful’s posterior opening of the alimentary canal is over now.
Looking back, I am convinced that BN had successfully managed to use the Saiful case to thwart attempts to change the government, i.e. September 16, 2008, and to dissuade BN MPs from switching sides.
But very soon Najib and BN have to pay the price in the coming general election.
In a shock decision, the Najib administration threw in the towel to overwhelming public support for Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. The courts, which have been accused of being under the thumb of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Umno party, have acquitted Anwar of manifestly fabricated sodomy charges.
This is in line with prolonged calls from the diplomatic and business communities as well everyday Malaysians, who are fed up of the brand of manipulative politics pushed by Umno, beginning during the time of former premier Mahathir Mohamad.
“It is thanks to all the brave Malaysians for standing up to be counted this morning and the past weeks. This is not just about Anwar although he is the main figure. But we all know that enough is enough, the rot has gone on for too long. Things are out of control and the people can sense it. Only they can save Malaysia and this morning is the first step,” a jubilant PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle.
“I would say, in the end Najib and Umno realized how silly their strategy has been and how Mahathir nearly led them to ruin once again. All they have done is to create the greatest publicity for Anwar. It also shows how popular Anwar and Pakatan are and all the talk of Anwar being a spent force and the Pakatan a loose coalition are not true. From the way the police reacted, and the threats from Najib and other BN leaders, it is clear how afraid they are of him and Pakatan. This morning’s turnout proves their fears are founded, the support was fantastic and a real eye-opener to everyone.”
Anwar himself immediately pledged to topple the BN after the verdict was announced, vowing there would no let-up in the Pakatan drive to wrest the federal government.
“I feel vindicated but we still have a struggle. We have to now focus on the general election,” Anwar told reporters.
Reformasi and Anything But Umno
Thousands of Malaysians from all walks of life shoutingReformasi, Hidup Anwar and ABU or Anything But Umno had thronged the Kuala Lumpur court complex in Jala Duta, where a controversial High Court judge had been widely expected to pronounce a ‘guilty’ verdict, despite a flimsy case and manifestly fabricated charges.
Such a guilty verdict, even if it had come with a stay of execution, would have been a blow to Anwar, as it disallows him from contesting in the 13th general election which Najib is expected to call later this year or early next year. But such an outcome has been anticipated by his Parti Keadilan Rakyat as well as Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
What has not been expected though is the sheer size of the crowd that cascaded into the court complex compound – by 8am, there were already more than 10,000 supporters. This, despite the mountain of threats from the police and the Najib administration. Incidentally, Najib fled the country over the weekend on an overseas trip to South Africa, with Umno watchers saying this was to forestall any unpleasant incident so that he could then blame the police or his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin.
“The people are still coming in. It is a spontaneous show of support for Anwar and a strong sign of rebellion against the Umno’s crooked regime. This augurs well for Malaysia, hopefully when GE-13 takes place, Malaysians will be able to finally kick out Umno and begin to build a bright future together,” PKR communications director Nik Nazmi had told Malaysia Chronicleearlier this morning. He expects a final crowd size of at least 20,000 people.
Fears of riot, Najib flees overseas
Pundits had also warned that should a full-fledged riot take place, as many had feared, it would have been triggered by the police and agent provocateurs from Umno, the ruling party, as only they would have in hand the amount of funds and machinery to spark off a major incident.
Meanwhile, the top leadership of the three parties – PKR, DAP and PAS – forming the Pakatan have already drawn out a course of action, focusing on how to wrest the federal government from Umno, which has ruled Malaysia for 54 years. There had been some speculation that Anwar may even be denied bail.
But PKR leaders had said this was unlikely. They said it was more plausible for the judge to pronounce Anwar guilty, extend bail, allow Anwar to appeal his sentence, while Najib bides his time on when best to spring GE-13 on an opposition he hopes will be badly stymied by Anwar’s sentencing.
In the end, none of that happened. Instead, Judge Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah went back on his earlier findings to rule that the prosecution had not done enough to prove Anwar had committed sodomy against Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the complainant.
“The court does not exclude the possibility the (DNA) samples were compromised. “Therefore the accused is acquitted,” Mohd Zabidin ruled to shouts of joy from Anwar’s supporters and family.
Political malafide backfires
It now looks like Najib’s malafide and political spite has backfired. Despite calls and advice from international leaders, Najib had been dead-set on gunning after Anwar, his arch rival from the 1980s and 90s when both were fast rising youth leaders in Umno.
Although, Umno leaders can now breathe easier and use the acquittal to showcase BN fair play and lack of political influence in the judiciary, few if any Malaysian or foreigner would believe that.
In the past few days, Najib’s advisers had also changed their tune and were spreading the word that both the PM and wife Rosmah Mansor no longer wanted to pursue the Sodomy II trial, which they have been blamed for hatching together with Saiful.
The first couple had refused to testify as witnesses despite meeting Saiful just before he lodged a police complaint that led to the Sodomy II trial. This boosted the impression that both Najib and Rosmah had been scheming to disadvantage Anwar and were afraid to be grilled on the stand by defense lawyers, creating too much negative repercussions for the first couple.
“It is not easy to go against Mahathir and Najib must have his exit plan ready or he wouldn’t have dared to move like this. Wait and see, in the next few days, the situation will become clearer,” said Jui Meng.
Mahathir returns to ‘rule at Umno
According to party watchers, it was Umno power broker and former premier Mahathir Mohamad who had insisted the Sodomy II show goes on, or he would support Muhyiddin in the Umno party polls due to be held later this year.
Some say Dr M even insisted Anwar be jailed immediately, but the legal advice from the Attorney General’s office is that such a move would be too contrary to the existing legal practises and spark greater odium for Malaysia’s legal system.
“We have been discussing the various scenarios for the longest time. Of course, we cannot reveal except that we will immediately zoom in on GE-13 once the verdict is out,” PKR vice president Tian Chua had told Malaysia Chronicle before the verdict was announced.
“We do not expect Anwar to be denied a stay of execution as that would really stretch the legalities, and cause further loss of credibility for his government. Although Mahathir is clamoring, we don’t think Najib can do it because the backlash would be insurmountable. Look at Khir Toyo – serious corruption and still bail.”
All eyes on Mahathir
Indeed, all eyes are now on Mahathir’s reaction to the acquittal. A smooth operator, Mahathir can be banked on to condemn the ruling, but it is what he may ‘do’ behind the scenes in Umno that is sending a shiver down the party.
Already, infighting and heated tempers have flared, rocking Umno divisions across the country.
A split in the Umno top ranks is bound to trigger a domino effect, hastening an implosion in the country’s biggest political party.
Anwar, 64, had been similarly accused of sodomy over a decade ago by the then premier Mahathir Mohamad and was found guilty. He spent six years in jail before being exonerated.
In 2008, shortly after Anwar announced his decision to make an active comeback to politics, Najib and Rosmah met Saiful at their official residence in Putrajaya. Days later, Saiful lodged a police complaint that Anwar had sodomised him, leading to the Sodomy II trial. Sodomy is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail in Malaysia and Anwar if convicted and sent to jail a second time, could become a symbol of political incarceration like Nelson Mandela.
“Mahathir’s greatest fear remains Anwar, who knows all his wheeling-and-dealing. At this point in time, Mahathir only cares about Mukhriz becoming the next PM and if Anwar is not behind bars, then Mukhriz’s chance will be reduced if not zerorized,” said Jui Meng.
“Mahathir himself had to quit before the general election in 2004 as the 1998 Anwar conviction caused 60% Malay support to swing to the opposition. If he hadn’t quit in favor of Abdullah Badawi, there wouldn’t be a BN landslide in GE-11. Even Najib almost lost his father’s seat in Pekan in 1999. In fact, he had lost and was openly weeping but then the postal votes came in and miraculously, he won by 200 votes. More than anyone else, Najib should know how dangerous it would be to jail Anwar a second time on such unfair grounds and yet he was foolish enough to try his luck with this trial in 2008.”