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Donkeyland's UMNO evil again is using judiciary to down Anwar


Last year I wrote about the ruling to convict Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy, saying it was a decision that not only embarrassed Malaysia, but impeded it. Anwar then remained on bail while he appealed the decision, but today, Malaysia’s highest court upheld it. Anwar is going to jail, for five years – again.

Anwar’s background, and that of the case, are discussed in detail in the earlier article, so let’s just focus on what has happened here and what it does not only for Anwar, not only for opposition politics, but for Malaysia itself.

Let’s leave aside the question of whether it can possibly be right to convict a man for his (alleged) sexuality. And the many problematic aspects of the case that caused the first court that heard it to throw it out, before the state itself appealed the decision. Let’s put to one side, for the moment, the extraordinary timing we are expected to believe about the sodomy cases that have been thrown at Anwar: first immediately after falling out of favour with then-leader Mahathir Mohamed in 1998, when Anwar was his deputy and anointed successor; then with allegations raised in 2008, shortly after the opposition’s finest ever performance in a general election; then with the state’s appeal against his acquittal in time for the 2013 election, in which the opposition did better still and won the popular vote.

The outcome of it all is that Malaysia has, once again, lost the prospect of credible opposition. It has lost, once again, any sense of judicial fairness and independence in the eyes of the world. As Phil Robertson at Human Rights Watch said in a statement today: “Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government has persisted in its politically motivated prosecution of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim at the expense of democratic freedoms and the rights to non-discrimination and privacy for all Malaysians. Allowing this travesty of justice to stand will further undermine respect for rights and democracy in Malaysia.”

It’s true that Malaysia thrived economically under Mahathir, in an era in which no credible opposition was ever really allowed to develop. A one-party system suited it, for a while. But Malaysia can’t want this forever. The strong showing of the opposition in the last two general elections shows that Malaysia wants a choice. By removing the most charismatic politician in opposition, the only man considered capable of uniting the three disparate parties that form the opposing coalition, the state and judiciary have undermined any hope of true political discourse in Malaysia.

And that impedes the country. Even the threat of opposition has brought meaningful changes in government policy: amendments to the National Economic Policy model of positive discrimination, ending elements of it that were weakening competitiveness in Malaysia and were open to abuse, for example. Those are the sorts of things that happen when serving governments recognise that there is popular support for another point of view. Weakening opposition in this way stops serving governments being accountable because they can never be voted out.

This is a bad day for Anwar Ibrahim, who at 67 may be now out of political life forever, and who must be living in fear of the abuse he suffered in his first prison term being repeated anew. And it is a bad day for Malaysia too, which will suffer with him.

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