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Repost :: A Malaysian story

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By Simon Kuper

An audience with Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s opposition leader, who spent six years in solitary confinement, where he he read the Bible, Lao Tse and all of Shakespeare.

Anwar Ibrahim isn’t going to win any Grammy awards, but in the chic tearoom of Paris’s Hotel Bristol he suddenly breaks into a 1960s hit: “Please understand just how I feel / Your love for me, why not reveal? … ” (He is probably channelling the Freddie & the Dreamers version.)

It’s an incongruous sound coming from Malaysia’s skinny opposition leader, with his professorial spectacles and greying goatee. Then Anwar returns to his coffee with honey (“very odd combination”, he concedes) and explains that he and his children used to sing the song together when they visited him in jail. “The guards would all be in tears hearing us,” he chuckles.

Anwar spent six years in solitary confinement, accused of sodomy and corruption (which he denied). He was released in 2004, and in elections on May 5 might become prime minister. His multi-ethnic opposition coalition has a genuine chance of toppling the Barisan Nasional coalition, which in different guises has ruled Malaysia […]