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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

NEWS: Anwar confident he will beat sodomy rap

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The Malaysian Insider, May 26, 2009

SINGAPORE, May 25 - Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Monday he is confident a court will find no evidence of sodomy when his case, which has inflamed political passions in Malaysia, resumes in July.

Anwar, who spent six years in jail on a 1998 sodomy conviction that was ultimately overturned, faces a 20-year sentence if convicted on the new charge. Homosexuality is outlawed in Malaysia.

That would effectively end his political career which has seen him come close to mounting a challenge to the National Front government that has ruled Malaysia for the 51 years since independence from Britain.

Political tensions in Malaysia have been stoked by arrests of opposition supporters and when Anwar was tried in the late 1990s, tens of thousands of people took to the streets.

"We've seen the conduct of the judiciary in the past, in the recent past ... as reasons to worry about that," Anwar told a luncheon of foreign correspondents in Singapore, in reply to a question about the possibility of mass protests at his trial.

His sodomy trial was transferred to the High Court in March, a move his lawyers have said could prejudice the 62-year old's chances of a fair hearing, because the Attorney General trying the case was investigated for allegedly tampering with evidence in Anwar's cases 10 years ago.

Anwar was arrested in July of last year for "sexual assault on a young male aide. It made little difference to his political popularity, because weeks later he won a by-election and returned in triumph to parliament as opposition leader after a decade's absence.

"We have all the medical records, the private doctors, the government doctors. Absolutely, there's no possibility of a penetration. Then how do you explain sodomy happening without penetration?" Anwar said.

"I don't think they can fool the Malaysian or international community by fabrication ... We will fight at this case. Clearly this is a malicious prosecution or persecution."

The People's Alliance grouping that Anwar now heads deprived the government of its two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections in March 2008 and ended up controlling five of Malaysia's 13 state legislatures, the best-ever result for the opposition.

The strong performance forced the then-Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step aside early and be replaced by his deputy, Najib Razak, the son of Malaysia's second prime minister.

Anwar joked with reporters about all the mudslinging in Malaysia politics.

"Must I be angry? No, I will go through the process. They alleged me with man, woman, and they haven't gone to cows yet, so I'm still OK," Anwar joked about the sodomy case.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

COLUMN: Anwar ... Forever victim, Never villain

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By Syed Nadzri
The New Straits Times, Tuesday, 19 May 2009

THE story of the week for many must be the one about Anifah Aman blowing the lid off Anwar Ibrahim. And the irony is so amusing.

This is especially so coming just days after a pro-Anwar salvo appeared in The New Yorker. The tear-jerker in the May 15 issue of the weekly magazine put the opposition leader and former deputy prime minister in shimmering light with a lengthy essay that started off by portraying him as someone who lives constantly in fear of his safety -- even at the KL Hilton where the interview with the writer was conducted.

But that image changed completely when Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman at a media conference at the US State Department in Washington three days ago revealed that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had offered him a lucrative post, equivalent to the deputy prime minister's post, as bait to switch sides after the general election last year.

"He was trying to entice members of parliament," Anifah was quoted as saying by Bernama. "And I was personally offered to jump to the opposition and offered a very lucrative position."

Anifah said the post was equivalent to that of deputy prime minister. The truth was only revealed now.

That's a humdinger from Anifah in the present political climate.

Anwar has denied all this and has threatened to sue, charging that the allegations were baseless, untrue, defamatory and made with malicious intent to tarnish his reputation.

But I think the more interesting side to the whole story is not just what was said about the alleged offer (which has now turned contentious) but the significance of the "where and when" of the minister's startling disclosure.

Where? In the US. And it strikes at the very heart of the Anwar agenda, especially when the story despatched from Washington was accompanied by photographs of Anifah standing beside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a news conference.

The irony of it all was that Anifah, when he made the statement, was merely responding to questions from the international media about whether the "Anwar issue" was brought up at their meeting since the US State Department's annual human rights report had mentioned that charges against Anwar were politically motivated.

In addition, everyone knows that Anwar's camp always gloats about his special connection with Washington. The sight of Anifah and Clinton smiling to the cameras with the flags of both countries as the backdrop, therefore, must have been quite hard to bear. And especially so now that better prospects have emerged in Malaysia's relations with the US with news that Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis might be made ambassador to Washington and there might be a meeting at the highest level soon between the leaders of the two countries.

As for the "when", this has to be seen in the light of that 5,500-word New Yorker piece by Ian Buruma, which started off thus: "Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's voice was barely audible above the background din of chattering guests and a cocktail-bar pianist at the Hilton Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

"Anwar -- who had rebounded from six years in prison on corruption and sodomy charges to become the best hope for a more democratic, less corrupt Malaysia -- speaks softly. He is still under constant surveillance, he said."

Speaks softly? Why, just over the weekend, he was in Tanah Liat, Berapit, Semambu and Kampung Tok Elong in mainland Penang, addressing public rallies presumably as a run-up to the Penanti by-election. And last week he was live on Al-Jazeera.

But such is the Anwar tactic that we know so well -- portray yourself as victim, push yourself as the hope.

The whole premise of the New Yorker article was pinned on that, which is nothing new, tracing the developments from the reformasi days with the underlying message -- as in all other write-ups on him appearing quite consistently of late in the international media -- that he should be prime minister "as only he can patch over the differences between secularists and Islamists because Anwar is a liberal Malay with impeccable Muslim credentials".

That's the same Anwar we see somewhere in the background of the current Perak political imbroglio. Isn't it amazing that some quarters have sought to portray the Pakatan Rakyat he leads as defenceless victims of the power play he himself started?

Some people have conveniently forgotten that it was the brash and confident Anwar who went to town towards the end of last year with claims that Pakatan had managed to get many MPs from Barisan Nasional to switch sides and that the fall of the Federal Government was only a matter of time.

It was also Anwar who relished the moment when Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim crossed over from Umno to Parti Keadilan Rakyat on Chinese New Year's eve. Remember that one?

When the tide subsequently turned the other way, leading to the current tangle, it has now become someone else's fault. And he's the victim.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NEWS: Anifah prepared to face any legal action by Anwar

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The Star Monday, 18 May 2009

SEPANG: Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman stands by his claim that Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim offered him the Deputy Prime Minister’s post as an incentive to join Pakatan Rakyat.

He said he was prepared to face any legal action Anwar may take against him.

He said Anwar himself had admitted that he had contacted him (Anifah) once, and that was when the offer was made.

Anifah said he had made it clear then that he had no intention of leaving Umno and Barisan Nasional.

“Anwar does not call someone just to say ‘hello,’ so I want you to think for yourself what other reason he could have to call me, if not to make me the offer,” he told a press conference here after returning from his trip to the United States yesterday.

During a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday, Anifah had claimed that Anwar offered him the position to persuade him to switch sides after the general election last year.

However, on Saturday, Anwar denied making the offer, while his lawyer Sankara Nair, in a statement, said that Anwar had instructed him to file a defamation suit against Anifah if he did not issue an apology by yesterday.

On why he had waited until now to make the offer public, Anifah said the matter was only highlighted while he was in the United States after a reporter there posed a question to him on Malaysia’s treatment of Anwar.

Anifah said he was disappointed with the poor picture of Malaysia, its leaders and the judicial system Anwar had painted overseas.

“I explained to journalists there that the High Court would not have reinstated Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as Perak Mentri Besar if it had not been free and independent,” he said.

Anifah said the United States was Malaysia’s biggest trading partner and if its people started to believe Anwar’s claims, it could lead to sanctions that would hurt Malaysia’s economy.

“This is why it is important to counter his claims and change the people’s perception by showing them the real picture of Malaysia,” he said.

On his meeting with Clinton, Anifah said one of the matters discussed was the handing-over of the two Malaysians being held at Guantanamo Bay.

He said he was told that Malaysia would be informed of their fate after the US authorities completed their review of the case involving the two men – Mohd Farik Amin @ Zaid @ Zubair, 34, and Mohammed Nazir Lep @ Bashir Lep @ Lillie, 33 – at the end of the month.

He said Malaysia was also invited to join the Contact Group for Piracy, off the Coast of Somalia, after the country offered its expertise in fighting piracy in the Straits of Malacca.

“We are also happy with the United States’s call for us to make more visits to the country as a means to enhance government-to-government and people-to-people relations,” he said.

Monday, May 18, 2009

NEWS: Anifah to Anwar: See you in court

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By Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

SEPANG, May 17 - Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman today said he is ready to face Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in court over his statement that Anwar had offered him the deputy prime minister's position if he crossed over to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) last year.

"Oh yes, I have no problem with that, as the foreign minister I have better things to do, Anwar is the least of my concern," said Anifah when asked whether he is prepared to face legal action by Anwar after he refused to retract his remark.

Anifah, at a joint press conference with Hillary Clinton in the United States on Thursday, said Anwar had offered him the deputy prime minister post to lure him to defect to PR, but Anwar had yesterday denied the allegation and threatened to take legal action.

Speaking to reporters upon his arrival from the United States, Anifah said that Anwar had called him once last year to make the offer.

"I told him, 'Don't waste your time, I am not willing to leave Umno and Barisan Nasional'," said Anifah adding that the matter was an open secret.

When asked when the call was made he said he could not remember as he did not treat the call from Anwar as something important.

Anifah said he only revealed what Anwar did in Washington because a reporter there had asked about the charges against the opposition leader.

"There was a reporter who asked a question about whether all the charges against Anwar were politically motivated so I told the reporter that I have utmost faith in our judicial system, there is no need to doubt, our judicial system is free and independent," said Anifah citing the recent High Court declaration on the Perak crisis which favoured the PR.

He added that Anwar was being irresponsible by tarnishing the country's image in the United States which is Malaysia's largest trading partner.

"I believe it is necessary to tell the Americans the truth," said Anifah.

VIDEO: Anwar Seniman Agung

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