Open Letter To Datuk Seri Najib Razak

5 May 2010


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To: Datuk Seri Najib Razak
Prime Minister
Federal Government Administration Centre
Bangunan Perdana Putra
62502 Putrajaya, Selangor


Dear Prime Minister,

I write with respect in order to inform you about high-level concern in Canada regarding opposition leader Dr Anwar Ibrahim and to request your urgent intervention.

As you must be aware, there is worldwide concern about events relating to this prominent opposition leader’s current situation, thus putting a critical spotlight on Malaysia . As Prime Minister, you are undoubtedly concerned, for example, that the respected Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) recently declared that Dr Anwar Ibrahim’s current trial on a charge of sodomy is riddled with defects. The IPU has now made a decision to send an observer to the coming court hearings. The United States of America expressed its intention to continue to scrutinize this controversial trial. Hundreds of participants, including former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, at the World Movement for Democracy, signed a petition calling for a fair trial as well as for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar . Further, some fifty Australian parliamentarians recently signed a letter calling for an end to the ongoing sodomy trial.

Joining the international outcry, concern is increasingly expressed at a high level in Canada . Please see enclosed documents. In brief:

Officers of the Canadian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur remain in private and public contact with Anwar Ibrahim and have observed the trial proceedings with great interest.
2. In a Globe and Mail article, former Canadian Prime Minister the Rt. Hon.Paul Martin called for the charges to be dropped to enable Anwar Ibrahim to “pursue his vision of a democratic Malaysia, properly respectful of human rights”.

Opposition Liberal Party Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Bob Rae MP, called on Canada ’s Parliament to take note of continuing political and legal harassment of Anwar Ibrahim, who has “long been a compelling spokesperson for democracy and for human rights in his country, and despite an unjustified prison sentence continues to speak out with courage and with determination”.
4. Forty-four Bloc Quebecois Party Members of Parliament signed a letter petitioning you “avec respect et amitie pour la Malaisie”, and declaring “ Nous sommes preoccupes par les accusations de sodomie portees contre Dr Anwar” (“with respect and amity for Malaysia ….We are concerned about the charges of sodomy against Dr Anwar”).

5.Twenty-eight New Democratic Party Members of Parliament have signed the enclosed petition, acknowledging the longstanding friendly relationship between Malaysia and Canada , referring to the damage to Malaysia ’s reputation with Anwar Ibrahim’s previous imprisonment and urging that current charges be dropped.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for the protection and promotion of human rights in Malaysia – a call that was a clear focus of the United Nations’ 2009 Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia and strongly supported by Canada ’s representatives. Prime Minister, is it not time for Malaysia to become a truly progressive state in the area of human rights? As evident from the widespread concern about Dr Anwar Ibrahim, your leadership into a new twenty-first century era of human rights progress in Malaysia would be welcomed worldwide as a historic, major step forward. I urge for such a new beginning the ensuring of treatment of Dr Anwar Ibrahim according to international human rights standards.

Yours respectfully,
Margaret John
Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia
Cc His Excellency Selwyn Das, High Commissioner to Canada

Paul Martin
Speak out for Anwar Ibrahim’s sake
Anwar Ibrahim and Paul Martin in 1995: a clear expression of international concern AP

Politically motivated charges impede his vision of a democratic Malaysia

Paul Martin
From Thursday’s Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 5:35PM EST Last updated on Thursday, Mar. 25, 2010 5:53AM EDT

Anwar Ibrahim is a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia. After having differences of opinion with prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, he was removed from office, charged with sodomy and corruption – charges condemned worldwide as an attempt to remove him from politics – and imprisoned for six years. After his release in 2004, he became the leader of a coalition of opposition parties that is successfully challenging the ruling coalition’s power. Mr. Anwar has now been charged again with sodomy, a charge that has again been condemned worldwide.

I have known Mr. Anwar well since the period when we each served as finance ministers for our respective countries. He is deeply committed to democracy, justice and the rule of law. And I have watched with horror how he has been treated in Malaysia because of that commitment. His initial imprisonment was seen worldwide as politically motivated. Amnesty International regarded him as a prisoner of conscience, jailed for the non-violent expression of his political opinion. After his release in 2004, he redoubled his campaign, attracting thousands to his public rallies, with the result that the historic 2008 election returned an unprecedented number of opposition candidates to Parliament. He now poses a threat to the government in the next national elections, expected in 2013 – the real reason for the latest charge.

His trial, which began Feb. 2, is widely seen as not meeting international standards for a fair trial. The former Anwar political aide who is making the sodomy accusation was reportedly seen with leading ruling coalition figures prior to the filing of the charge; Mr. Anwar’s lawyers have been denied access to vital prosecution documents; and the trial has been transferred to a higher court whose judges are seen as linked to the ruling coalition’s main party. It is small wonder that Michael Danby, chair of Australia’s parliamentary subcommittee on foreign affairs, has charged that Malaysia’s legal system is being manipulated to drive Mr. Anwar out of politics. Mr. Danby has said that Asian democrats were “flabbergasted” by the charges and that “everyone in Malaysia, and everyone in the international legal community, knows that Anwar is innocent of these charges.”

The presence of so many foreign embassies attending Mr. Anwar’s show trial is a clear expression of international concern. This is an issue on which the world must speak out.

If his country is to take its place among the progressive nations of the world, it is crucial that the politically motivated charge against Mr. Anwar be dropped and that he be free to pursue his vision of a democratic Malaysia, properly respectful of human rights and international law.

Paul Martin is former prime minister of Canada.



March 26, 2010

Standing Order 31 — Hon. Bob Rae, Opposition Liberal Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, regarding Dr Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia

Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the House needs to take note of the continuing political and legal harassment of Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister and the current leader of the opposition.

Mr. Ibrahim has long been a compelling spokesman for democracy and for human rights in his country, and despite an unjustified prison sentence continues to speak out with courage and with determination. It is important for Canada to send a consistent message on democracy and human rights.

For the record, I hope all members of the House will join me in expressing our solidarity with Mr. Anwar Ibrahim and his continuing legal struggle in Malaysia, and join me in calling on the Government of Canada to express its deep concern to the government of Malaysia about this matter.



Datuk Seri Najib Razak cc. His Excellency Selwyn Vijayarajan Das

Prime Minister of Malaysia High Commissioner for Malaysia
Federal Government Administration Centre 60 Boteler Street
Bangunan Perdana Putra Ottawa, Ontario K1N 8Y7
62502 Putrajaya

Dear Prime Minister

We, the undersigned members of the Parliament of Canada, respectfully express our concern about the current trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Anwar Ibrahim, now an opposition leader. We write in the knowledge of the longstanding friendly relationship between our two countries and trust that our petition will be accepted in that light.

We are concerned about the charges of sodomy against Dr Anwar, which appears to be a repetition of the sodomy conviction against him some 12 years ago. The conviction, which led to his six-year imprisonment as a prisoner of conscience, was seen worldwide at that time as politically motivated and, as such, caused serious damage to Malaysia’s reputation. We are anxious that such damage not be repeated. Reports, however, strongly suggest that the current sodomy charges against Dr Anwar, lodged following his re-election to Parliament and major electoral gains by his party, are again a ploy to remove him from political life.

We therefore urge that all charges against Dr Anwar be dropped. Such a decision by your administration will, we believe, restore international respect for your premiership and for Malaysia’s judicial system. We note that our Australian parliamentary colleagues have similarly expressed their concern and requested an end to this trial.

Again, we stress that our petition is submitted with respect and amity towards Malaysia.


The following Canadian Members of Parliament of the Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic Party signed:

Gilles. Duceppe (Leader, Bloc Quebecois) Franciine Lalonde (Bloc Quebecois Foreign Affairs spokesperson)

Louis Plamondon Andre Bellavance

Johanne Deschamps Mario Laframboise

Gerard Asselin Paule Brunelle

Yvon Levesque Meili Faille

Luc Malo Christian Ouellet

Serge Cardin Guy Andre

Diane Bourgeois Pascal-Pierre Paille

Nicolas Dufour Robert Vincent

Monique Guay Carole Lavallee

Richard Nadeau Marc Lemay

Yves Lessard Claude Bachand

Roger Pomerleau Raynald Blais

Claude Guimond Eve-Mary Thai Thi Lac

Josee Beaudin France Bonsant

Nicole Demers Maria Mourani

Serge Menard Luc Desnoyers

Jean Dorion Jean-Yves Laforest

Carole Freeman Robert Carrier

Bernard Bigras Thierry St-Cyr

Christiane Gagnon Claude DeBellefeuille

Michel Guimond Pierre A. Paquette

Wayne Marston Paul Dewar

Yvon Godin Bill Siksay

Tony Martin Chris Charlton

Claude Gravelle Denise Savoie

Megan Leslie Fin Donnelly

Don Davies David Christopherson

Nathan Cullen Irene Mathyssen

Dennis Bevington Peter Stoffer

John Rafferty Bruce Hyer

Malcom Allen Linda Duncan

Peter Julian Alex Atamanenko

Jack Harris Patrick Martin

Olivia Chow Joseph Comartin

Libby Davies Jean Crowder


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