9 March 2016

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Kenyataan Akhbar Anwar Ibrahim
9 Mac 2016

Kita sudah sampai ke peringkat di mana terdapat kesedaran meluas menuntut perubahan. Pimpinan Perdana Menteri Najib Razak dan sistem pemerintahan yang gagal mengendali permasalahan kritikal ekonomi Negara.

Terakhir kita perhatikan kedudukan ekonomi tambah gawat dan buktinya adalah dengan keperitan hidup rakyat.

Harga barang keperluan asas meningkat dan perlaksanaan GST bercelaru dan membebankan.

Kerajaan BN-UMNO tidak sanggup melakukan sebarang tindakan berkesan untuk mengurangkan beban rakyat. Umpamanya dengan penurunan harga minyak, kadar letrik milik IPP-kroni tidak diturunkan. Untung mereka meningkat ratusan juta ringgit setahun. Tetapi rakyat terpaksa membayar kadar yang tinggi.

Justeru itu saya menggesa rakan-rakan dalam Keadilan, Pakatan Harapan dan NGO-NGO untuk terus gigih menuntut reformasi sepertimana kita perjuangkan selama ini.

Press Statement by Anwar Ibrahim
9th March 2016

We have reached a point where there is widespread awareness of the need for change. The leadership of Prime Minister
Najib Razak and the system of governance has failed to resolve the country’s critical economic troubles. Lately we see that the economic situation has worsened, the undeniable proof of which is the increasing difficulties and challenges faced by the rakyat.

The price of essential goods are increasing and the implementation of GST is confused and burdensome.

The UMNO-BN government is not interested to take any effective action to reduce the burden of the rakyat. For example, with the reduction of petrol prices, the electricity rates charged by IPP-owned by cronies were not reduced. Their profits have increased by millions of ringgit annually, but the rakyat still pay high rates for electricity.

Therefore I urge my friends in Keadilan, Pakatan Harapan and NGOs to push on with the demand for the reforms which we have struggled for all this while.

3 March 2016

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Saya menyokong pendirian rakan-rakan dari masyarakat sivil, parti politik dan individu-individu termasuk Tun Dr Mahathir, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin dan lain-lain untuk menggembleng kekuatan dan persefahaman bersama seperti disuarakan oleh Ketua Pembangkang baru-baru ini.

Persefahaman bersama ini akan menumpukan untuk menuntut perletakan jawatan Dato’ Sri Najib selaku Perdana Menteri yang telah nyata gagal mentadbir negara. Beliau bertanggungjawab meneruskan tindakan-tindakan politik rakus, merosakkan institusi pemerintahan dan membebankan rakyat dengan kegawatan ekonomi yang berterusan.

?Pada masa yang sama, tuntutan perubahan ini semestinya akan melibatkan reformasi institusi utama dalam negara yang sudahpun retak dan parah di bawah pentadbiran Dato’ Sri Najib.

Selama ini kita mewakili suara nurani hati rakyat  telah berikrar untuk memperjuangkan pengembalian hak rakyat di sebuah negara merdeka dan berdaulat. Tuntas dengan kesedaran ini maka hak rakyat harus dikembalikan melalui sistem pilihanraya yang bersih serta badan kehakiman dan media yang bebas. Dasar ekonomi harus diubah untuk mengutamakan semula usaha ke arah pertumbuhan yang segar dan pengagihan kekayaan yang saksama.

Skandal 1MDB yang melibatkan Perdana Menteri adalah skandal terparah dalam sejarah dan turut menjejaskan imej negara. Ini hanya mungkin berlaku apabila terdapat pemusatan kuasa kepada seorang Perdana Menteri serta kegagalan institusi kewangan, keadilan dan penguatkuasaan menjalankan tugas dengan bebas.

Kita juga telah belajar dari pengalaman sejarah bahawa peralihan kuasa yang bermakna bukanlah peralihan tokoh semata tetapi perubahan sistem.

Justeru itu saya tegas menggesa rakan-rakan dan rakyat bersama dalam usaha ini tanpa membataskan ia sebagai agenda peribadi mahupun permusuhan peribadi. Kita harus merangka halatuju baru bagi menyelamatkan negara.

Anwar Ibrahim

3 Mac 2016

MEDIA STATEMENT

I support the position of friends in civil society, political parties and individuals including Tun Dr Mahathir, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin and others to build up strength and common understanding together as articulated by the Leader of the Opposition recently.

This understanding will focus on the demand for Dato’ Sri Najib to resign as Prime Minister as he has clearly failed to lead this nation. He is responsible for continuing to engage in selfish political acts, wreaking havoc upon administrative institutions, and burdening the Rakyat with continued economic crisis.

At the same time, the call for change must also necessarily  involve reform at key institutions in this nation, which have been badly damaged under the administration of Dato’ Sri Najib.

All this while, we, in representing the voice and conscience of the rakyat, have sworn to fight to return the rights of the rakyat in an independent and sovereign nation. Thus in line with this commitment, the rights of the Rakyat must be returned through a free and fair elections as well as an independent judiciary and free media. Economic policies must be reformed to refocus on fresh economic growth combined with equitable distribution of wealth.

The 1MDB scandal involving the Prime Minister is the most severe scandal in our history and has badly damaged our nation’s image. This can only happen when power is centered in one individual such as the Prime Minister, as well as the failure of key financial, judicial and enforcement institutis to perform their tasks independently  without fear or favour.

We have also learned from history that meaningful transition of power cannot happen only with a change of leadership but it also demands a systemic change.

Therefore I urge my friends and the rakyat to stand together in this effort without limiting it with personal agendas or personal vendettas. We must together chart a new way forward to save our beloved nation.

Anwar Ibrahim

3 March 2016

3 March 2016

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Sneha Shankar-International Business Times

2 March 2016-    The daughter of imprisoned Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim said that the link between the pilot of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and her father was just coincidental, Xinhua reported Tuesday after an exclusive interview. The comments from Nurul Izzah Anwar came in response to speculation that the flight’s pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, hijacked the plane to protest against the upholding of Anwar’s conviction sentencing him to five years in jail on sodomy charges, a day before March 8, 2014, the day the plane went missing.

Zaharie had reportedly attended some political meetings and it was later established that he was a member of Anwar’s party. It was also revealed that Zaharie was a distant relative of Anwar’s daughter-in-law, CNN reported two years ago. Though it was not clear if Zaharie attended Anwar’s court hearing on March 7, his friends said the MH370 pilot was “upset and disgusted” with the court sentencing, according to CNN.

“The problem we have is we have no way of knowing what the government has done to investigate, to find the actual causes for the crash,” Nurul told Xinhua in an exclusive interview. She also said: “I understand the anger because a lot of the families did not get adequate explanation from the event. We were pushing for more disclosure in parliament because it’s disastrous.”

Flight MH370 had left from Kuala Lumpur and was headed to Beijing with 239 people on board — 154 of whom were Chinese — when it disappeared. Since then, while the people on board have been declared dead, efforts have been going on to find the plane and its wreckage. The only piece of wreckage that has been found so far is a flaperon found last July on the shores of France’s Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean, which lies about 2,300 miles away from the current search area. However, the multimillion dollar search for the plane has no concrete theory about where the plane could be.

If the plane is not found by June, a decision to call off the search or to continue it would be made in a tripartite meeting between Malaysia, China and Australia. About 32,818 square miles has been searched so far and Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau that is supervising the search for the missing plane, reportedly said Monday that only an area of about 17,500 square miles remained to be searched.

“We are still confident that we will find the aircraft between now and the completion of searching the search area of 120,000 square kilometers (about 46,000 square miles),” Dolan reportedly told Stuff news, adding: “The more we search, the more likely the aircraft is to be in the area we are still looking at.”

He also said: “The only level of uncertainty is the behavior of the aircraft at the very end of its flight. The weight of the evidence indicates that there were no control inputs to the aircraft at the end of its flight and that’s the basis on which we have calculated the search area.”

The authorities currently believe that the plane was on autopilot mode as one or both the pilots were dead, and that it may have crashed into the southern part of Indian Ocean, where the search operations are focused upon. However, if the plane is not found, then the possibility of someone else being in control of the plane would be a plausibility that authorities would have to consider

25 February 2016

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By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal- The Malaymail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 ? Political parties and Malaysians fighting for reform must understand that the only way to implement true change is to address the crisis of confidence that the country is facing, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has said, and that mere fixation on an individual will not achieve this purpose. The jailed former opposition leader pointed out that that the crisis Malaysia is facing today is an issue of a lack of confidence and trust in the judiciary, the media as well as the state of the country’s democratic institutions.

“The crisis isn’t merely afflicted by a prime minister or an individual. “The overt focus on one person or role; focusing on (the) corruption of one man misses the point,” Anwar said in a recent interview in response to queries by Malay Mail Online. His replies were narrated to Malay Mail Online by his daughters Nurul Izzah Anwar and Nurul Nuha Anwar, who spoke to him recently. “It is a failure not only of a department but of an entire system. We require systemic change,” Anwar added, saying that true reforms will not be achieved just by removing a leader from power.

He was commenting on the opposition parties and its supporters’ fixation on issues involving Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and 1Malaysia Development Berhad. “Our task is to remain consistent with the economic program to uplift society, not on individuals; focusing on economic hardship, increasing costs inflicted on the rakyat,” the former Permatang Pauh MP stressed. When asked Pakatan Harapan’s prospect in defeating Barisan Nasional at the next general election, Anwar said the only way the federal opposition stood a fighting chance was to form a bigger coalition of like-minded people.

“Pakatan Harapan must be based on a broader coalition of forces,” the PKR de facto leader said. Despite having been imprisoned for over a year now, Anwar says he is doing fine and that his “incorrigible” optimism keeps him going. “After one year, Alhamdulillah, I am doing my best. We have to endure for what we believe in, especially in facing the statecraft of authoritarian rule,” he added. According to Nurul Izzah, Anwar keeps himself busy in prison in immersing himself with his books. “He is an avid reader. That’s how he occupies his time. “The ophthalmologist who saw him in early February suggested a reading light due to worsening power but well it is prison life,” she told Malay Mail Online. On February 10, 2015, the Federal Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s conviction of Anwar for sodomising his former political aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008. The conviction meant Anwar was disqualified as MP and will be barred from contesting in an election for five years after his release. Anwar, a former deputy prime minister and also former Permatang Pauh MP who previously spent six years in prison between 1999 and 2004, is currently serving the five-year jail term.

24 February 2016

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Sevan Doraisamy is executive director of Suaram (Aliran)

23 Feb –

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) condemns the continued detention of Anwar Ibrahim and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

The arrest and detention of Anwar Ibrahim has been condemned globally by all quarters for a myriad of reasons that threaten to undermine the legal institution and human rights in Malaysia. The government of Malaysia cannot in good conscience remain apathetic and deny all responsibility for the arrest and detention of Anwar Ibrahim.

The manner in which state controlled-media have publicised and spun the case against Anwar Ibrahim and the judiciary’s decision to accept evidence that had been tampered with in manners non-compliant with recognised standard operating procedures have cast a shadow of doubt on the legitimacy of the case against Anwar Ibrahim and reaffirmed the sentiment that his case was politically motivated and that the whole prosecution and detention was designed to weaken the opposition coalition in Malaysia.

The conclusion drawn by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) in November 2015 with regard to the arrest and detention of Anwar Ibrahim clearly affirms this sentiment. Despite the conclusion by UNWGAD, the government has wilfully chosen to deny the findings and refused to take actions to address the injustice done to Anwar Ibrahim.

The callous manner in which the government has responded to the UNWGAD findings can only be interpreted as an act of denial and an effort to maintain the government’s façade of compliance with international human rights norms and principles.

Once again, Suaram reiterate its strongest condemnation of the arrest, prosecution and detention of Anwar Ibrahim and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

 

22 February 2016

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The Diplomat- Luke Hunt (21.2.2016)

There is growing evidence that the region’s economic prospects are dimming.

Regional economic prospects are dimming in Southeast Asia, with unemployment expected to rise and increasing concerns over job security preoccupying many – with Malaysians in particular being the hardest hit – a survey by the Financial Times has found.

The survey of jobseekers by the FT Confidential Research found that unemployment was expected to rise in ASEAN after significant job losses were recorded last year as the economy turned.

It surveyed 5,000 people — one thousand each from Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam — ASEAN’s five major economies in terms of population and financial clout.

It also found that more than half of respondents were “finding it either hard or very hard to land a new job”.

About two-thirds of the people surveyed in Malaysia, where the oil and gas sector and the aviation industry have been prominent in shedding jobs, described the employment market as tough.

Despite this and a major contraction in lending, Prime Minister Najib Razak has insisted that Malaysia still performs “pretty well.”

His tenure has been blighted by corruption scandals amid calls for his resignation and the release of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who won the popular vote at the last election in 2013 but lost on a seat count. He was subsequently jailed.

Like most regional leaders, Najib has a tendency to blame China for the economic issues at home as opposed to focusing on the fiscal and monetary policies initiated by his own government that underpins his country’s economic future.

As an indicator for what might happen next, the FT findings were not good given that the crisis in China is still unfolding. There is always a lag between an economic event and its full impact on the broader economy.

As a rule of thumb, it can take anywhere up to 18 months for a simple interest rate hike to make its way through an entire economy. The impact of increased government spending or spending cuts can take just as long to take effect.

That’s a major headache for central bankers when weighing-up the short, medium and long term prospects for an economy in its decision-making process.

The Chinese economy began its descent on August 11, with a two percent devaluation of its currency, the renminbi, which astonished the world. Like an interest rate hike, that decision, along with all the monetary and fiscal policy adjustments made since then, are still to work their way through the regional and global economies.

Other countries were also forced to follow suit and devalue their currencies. Then, resources prices collapsed as the Chinese stock market began an uncontrollable slide which has gone global and spread from mining companies and commodities to banks and finance houses.

Importantly, another survey by The Economist found about $1 trillion, at an annualized rate, had been taken out of China in the last six months of last year. That’s an enormous figure and one Beijing can ill-afford to let continue.

Chinese debt stands at about $27 trillion, and it’s GDP at about $10 trillion. Do the math. Add a recent interest rate hike in the United States and a fall into negative interest rate territory in Japan to the mix and the economic landscape that emerges is as unique as it is telling.

ASEAN governments have spent decades crafting their reliance on the Chinese economy, with a strategic relationship shaped by geography and exports into China that achieved double digit growth for the last two decades.

That growth has ended, the outlook for Southeast Asia is intimidating and the latest surveys contain just a hint of what’s probably to come.

18 February 2016

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Myanmar TIMES by Roger Mitton

18 February- The sages said the Year of the Monkey would be lively, unpredictable and even mischievous, but few expected the fantasyland funny business to start so quickly.

Rarely, if ever, has this region witnessed so many surprising and often downright quirky developments as it has in the past couple of weeks.

In hindsight, the signs were evident last month, when the leadership conventions in Laos and Vietnam, normally so staid and predictable, stunned everyone.

When Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made a much-anticipated bid to become boss of the ruling Vietnam Communist Party, he was brutally cut down by disaffected party cadres who voted en masse against him.

Dung was so shamed that he initially cancelled his scheduled trip to attend this week’s Sunnylands Summit of ASEAN leaders in the United States and was ready to send his deputy instead, until party elders ordered him to go.

There were equally startling changes in Laos, where the party chief and prime minister were both dumped and replaced by reformist figures who are more open and internationalist in outlook.

That cheered those who hope Laos, as this year’s ASEAN chair, will curb its usual pro-Beijing slant and perhaps help mediate some middle-ground accord with China to regulate conduct in the South China Sea.

Sure, it’s unlikely. As Stanford University’s Asian expert Don Emmerson said, “That goal has become an institutionalised mirage, invoked hopefully year after year in ASEAN communiqués to no meaningful avail.”

It was invoked again on February 16 at the strange Sunnylands shindig hosted by President Barack Obama.

The event was where this year’s real monkey business began, and to understand why, it pays to peruse some of the bizarrely disparate opinions expressed about the value of the leadership conclave.

To begin with, many struggled to comprehend why Obama, who is keen to make his last year in office a productive one, took time to host a bunch of guys he’d just met three months ago in Kuala Lumpur and Manila.

What was the purpose? A nice photo op for posterity? Actually, even the photos were diminished, given that President U Thein Sein did not attend.

Still, purpose or not, the event was touted as the greatest thing for regional relations since Washington avoided repeating then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s infamous snub of ASEAN in 2005.

Back then, Rice decided she had more important things to do than fly halfway round the world to take part in photo ops and song-and-dance routines with foreign ministers from small Southeast Asian nations.

She was right. But the region’s leaders took the snub badly and Obama has spent the past seven years trying to make amends.

Sunnylands was supposed to prove he has succeeded, although the gathering merely reiterated superficial expressions of chumminess and did not embellish either side.

One trenchant analysis of the event was written by Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, who called his artlcle “Obama’s Sunnylands Summit: Does ASEAN Really Matter?”He appears to think it does not.

And it was hard to disagree with him when he sliced apart the old wishful thinking of other ASEAN-centric analysts who had tried to argue that Sunnylands was a reaffirmation of a regional strategic partnership.

It was not. And Manning was right when he said it was delusional to portray ASEAN as a viable collective body that has more than a marginal role in the region’s political and security setup. It does not.

If the group’s key bodies like the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit were eliminated tomorrow, no one would notice and the region would remain just as safe.

As Manning said, to view ASEAN as anything more than “a loose coalition of disparate nations, economies and cultures is to buy into its own fantasyland narcissism”.

Talking of fantasyland: The much touted ASEAN Economic Community, launched on January 1, has changed our lives, right?

Wrong. They said it would consolidate trading rules, allow free movement of workers and introduce a single market for goods and services. All a pipe dream. Nothing has happened and nothing will for years to come.

If you think this is unduly pessimistic just check out another analysis by Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, who also skewered this week’s fantasyland summit.

His article, “The Dark Heart of ASEAN”, was even more devastating than those by Manning and others, for he argued that by hosting the ASEAN leaders, Washington allowed its interests to overwhelm its principles.

He noted that since the US pivot to Asia in 2011, the region’s political systems have regressed significantly, as best shown by Thailand’s sad slide “from flawed democracy to military rule”.

Just as poignant has been the way Malaysian democracy has been stunted by the jailing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the repression of critics and the financial shenanigans of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Cambodia was headed toward a two-party democracy after the 2013 general election, but since then Prime Minister Hun Sen has forced opposition leader Sam Rainsy into exile and cracked down on other critics.

As for Brunei, Laos and Vietnam, Kurlantzick calls them “among the most repressive states in the world, with no evidence of political opening at all”.

Only in Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines has democracy and civic society advanced in any way; the rest of the region is going backward.

It is no exaggeration to say that this anti-democratic regression lies at the dark heart of ASEAN.

Until this changes, the grouping really will not matter – and nor will any silly Sunnylands summits held in the future.

16 February 2016

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UK Parliament

That this House is very concerned about the continued imprisonment of Malaysian opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, who has now served one year of his five year sentence for sodomy; notes that his conviction and subsequent imprisonment on politically motivated charges has undermined Malaysian democracy and confidence in the Malaysian justice system; further notes that almost 20 opposition hon. Members and a number of activists in Malaysia are subject to legal proceedings, under the Sedition Act and other legislation, for exercising their legitimate political and civil rights; calls on the relevant Malaysian authorities to release Anwar Ibrahim, and in the interim, to ensure he is able to access appropriate medical care, including the medical specialists of his choice, even if that necessitates travel abroad, and access to his lawyers; and urges the Government to make such representations to its counterparts in Malaysia.

10 February 2016

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(New York, February 9, 2016) – On the first anniversary of Anwar Ibrahim’s incarceration on politically motivated charges, the Malaysian government should unconditionally release the former deputy prime minister and political opposition leader, Human Rights Watch said today. The Malaysian government should also ensure that Anwar can access appropriate medical services while imprisoned and facilitate necessary overseas travel to treat the serious ailments he reportedly suffers from in prison.

“Malaysia’s conviction of Anwar Ibrahim was politically motivated, and he’s already suffered through a year in prison from this travesty of justice,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Every day that Anwar is behind bars, confidence in the Malaysian justice system further erodes. The government should release Anwar and repeal the country’s abusive and archaic sodomy laws.”

On February 10, 2015, Malaysia’s Federal Court upheld a Court of Appeal verdict that Anwar was guilty of sodomy under the Malaysian penal code. Anwar was taken into custody and immediately began serving a five-year prison term. A request for a pardon was turned down in March 2015. An appeal of that denial has yet to be decided.

In November 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Anwar’s imprisonment violated prohibitions on torture, or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Specifically, the Working Group found that an “adequate remedy would be to release Mr. Ibrahim immediately, and ensure that his political rights that were removed based on his arbitrary detention be reinstated.”

Police arrested Anwar on July 16, 2008, based on a complaint from Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a political aide, that Anwar had consensual sex with him. The original trial was plagued with serious fair trial concerns, including the prosecutors’ unwillingness to provide defense lawyers with access to medical and other evidence against their client. Nevertheless, the High Court acquitted Anwar on January 9, 2012, ruling that DNA samples that were central to the prosecution’s case had not been handled or maintained properly and thus were possibly contaminated. The High Court judge said the only other major evidence was the alleged victim’s statements, which were uncorroborated.

The government appealed and on March 7, 2014, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and sentenced Anwar to five years in prison. The appeal court hearing, originally scheduled for April, was hurriedly moved to March 6-7. The verdict and sentencing hearings were conducted on the same day despite defense counsel requests that they be given more time, including provision of medical evidence. The sentencing hearing was conducted after a one-hour recess on a day of proceedings that had lasted until 5 p.m.

Anwar’s conviction disqualified him from running for a state assembly seat in Selangor on March 23. Had he been permitted to run and won the seat, he would have been eligible to seek the position of chief minister of Selangor state, a development strongly opposed by the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

Anwar’s five-year sentence also carried a subsequent five-year ban on running for office after being released from prison under Malaysia’s elections law, which imposes a ban on anyone who is imprisoned for more than one year – effectively ending his elected political career. Soon after Anwar’s imprisonment, the multi-party Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance he had led fractured.

“Anwar’s conviction and imprisonment removed a major political threat to the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak,” Robertson said. “The conviction effectively removed a charismatic opposition leader, already in his late sixties, from politics for a minimum of ten years.”

According to his lawyers, Anwar suffers from serious health problems, including a major rotator cuff injury with torn muscles and tendons, which has not received proper treatment in prison. The lawyers and Anwar’s family raised health concerns for Anwar if he were to have the condition treated in an operation in Malaysia, and have tried to persuade the government to let him travel overseas for treatment. They have also sought guarantees that if Anwar did depart the country, the government would permit him to return and not seek to permanently exile him.

The anniversary of Anwar’s imprisonment comes five days before United States President Barack Obama is set to host a major summit with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the US. The invitation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also embroiled in a major corruption scandal involving the deposit of hundreds of millions of dollars in his personal bank account, has provoked outrage within civil society in Malaysia.

“President Obama should not conduct business as usual at the US-ASEAN summit with Prime Minister Najib,” said Robertson. “It would be a betrayal of the people of Malaysia if Obama does not publicly call for Anwar’s release, and the dismissal of politically motivated charges for sedition and other crimes that so many activists in Malaysia face today.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Malaysia, please visit:
https://www.hrw.org/asia/malaysia

For more information, please contact:
In Bangkok, Phil Robertson, (English, Thai): +66-85-060-8406 (mobile); [email protected] Twitter: @Reaproy
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1-347-463-3531 (mobile); [email protected] Twitter: @BradMAdams
In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-646-479-2499 (mobile); [email protected] Twitter: @johnsifton
In New York, Mickey Spiegel (English): +1-212-472-8723; [email protected] Twitter: @MickeySpiegel
In London, Linda Lakhdhir (English): +44-(0)77-8969-2780 (mobile); [email protected] Twitter: @LLakhdhir

10 February 2016

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FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization for Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) 

Joint press release 

Paris, Kuala Lumpur, 10 February 2016: Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said today on the one-year anniversary of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State.

“It’s time the authorities put an end to the persecution of Anwar Ibrahim and immediately and unconditionally release him. Any additional day Anwar spends behind bars is one more day of shame for the Malaysian government and further tarnishes its battered reputation,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

On 10 February 2015, the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ conviction of Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. Anwar’s imprisonment was the result of a politically motivated prosecution and the ensuing criminal Court of Appeals and Federal Court proceedings failed to meet international standards for fair trials. FIDH observed the Court of Appeals’ and Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial.

In an opinion issued at its 73rd session on 1 September 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated.

On 17 December 2015, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that urged the Malaysian government to release Anwar.

“Authorities must heed the UN and EU calls, immediately free Anwar, reinstate his right to run for political office, and award him compensation for the protracted injustice he endured,”said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

FIDH and SUARAM reiterate their call for the Malaysian authorities to guarantee Anwar his prisoner rights – including the rights to receive adequate medical care in accordance with relevant international standards.

Anwar requires intensive physiotherapy for a serious shoulder injury, which has worsened since his detention. Anwar also suffers from various gastro-intestinal problems, chronic arthritis, and irregular blood pressure. His prison doctor has denied him timely access to doctors of his choice and necessary medical testing.

The UNWGAD’s opinion considered that Anwar’s treatment during his detention “may have violated the prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under Article 5 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights].

Press contacts:

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722(Bangkok)

3 February 2016

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The Guardian, 31 January 2016

There is, rightly, widespread concern over Najib and a democratic deficit.

Dato’ Sri Mohamed Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak was born to rule. Son of Malaysia’s second post-independence prime minister and nephew of its third, he entered parliament at the age of 23, inheriting his father’s seat and was handed several senior portfolios before being appointed prime minister himself in 2009.

Najib heads the powerful United Malays National Organisation (Umno), the pre-eminent political force. His national and personal dominance symbolises the bumiputera (ethnic Malay) ascendancy in a country with large, constitutionally disadvantaged ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities.

But as the intense firestorm sparked by last week’s arbitrary dismissal of potentially career-ending corruption allegations against him suggests, Najib is also seen by growing numbers of fellow citizens as unfit to rule the country whose leadership he inherited as if by right. His time in government, especially since the 2013 general election, has brought an expansion of repressive laws, multiplying human rights abuses and curbs on media freedoms more reminiscent of Russia than of a supposedly functional, pro-western democracy closely allied to Britain and the US.

Human Rights Watch summed up Malaysia’s crisis of governance in its 2016 World Report and country-file: “The ruling Umno-led coalition has remained in power since 1957 through electoral manipulation, censorship, intimidation and use of criminal statutes to punish political opponents. After losing the popular vote in the 2013 elections – but maintaining a legislative majority through gerrymandering – the government renewed its crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and passed new laws permitting preventive detention without charge… Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim remains imprisoned on trumped-up sodomy charges after a politically motivated, unjust trial.”

The latest furore besmirching Najib’s shaky reputation concerns a 2013 payment of $681m into his personal bank account, a transfer that only came to light thanks to a Wall Street Journal report last July. After months of closed-door investigations and Najib’s repeated denials of wrongdoing, Mohamed Apandi Ali, Malaysia’s attorney general, declared last week that the money was a private gift from the Saudi royal family and there was no evidence of improper or corrupt activity. Nor was there any connection with graft allegations swirling around the debt-laden state fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which Najib oversaw, he said.

This has been met with widespread scepticism. Why was the gift made to Najib and what was it for? Why was most of the money apparently later returned to the Saudis, and what happened to the $61m that was not? Why was the transfer routed circuitously through the British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong? And why, particularly if, as Najib claims, the money was a political donation to boost Umno election campaign funds, was it deposited in his personal bank accounts?

Those taken by surprise by Apandi’s act of absolution include the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (Macc), which investigated the affair. An anonymous source there subsequently told the Reuters news agency that the commission recommended last month that Najib be charged with criminal misappropriation. Apandi rejected the advice. The Macc is now seeking a review of the attorney general’s decision, while those in Najib’s camp want an inquiry into the leak.

Saudis also found the decision surprising. The royal family would “never” place political funds in a private individual’s account, officials told the Malaysia Chronicle. This may or may not be true. A “well-placed Saudi source” told the BBC’s Frank Gardner that the money was paid direct to Najib, on the orders of the late King Abdullah, to help him defeat Islamist hardliners in the 2013 election.

Najib says he has been vindicated and Malaysia must move on. This is fantasy. The scandal will live on in the minds of voters who have more reason than ever to distrust those who presume to lead them on the basis of privilege, wealth and inequality. It lives on in the minds of the FBI and investigators in Switzerland and Hong Kong still probing 1MDB. And it shines a spotlight on Malaysia’s worsening democratic deficit, whether defined in terms of shady campaign finances, electoral manipulation and foreign interference, human rights abuses, weak and unreliable governance – or downright venality.

18 January 2016

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Malaysiakini- Ooi Heng (Executive Director of the think-tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU)

Former Leader of the Opposition of Malaysian Parliament, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, is being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2016. He is currently serving his five-year jail term for his second conviction of sodomy, since 10 February 2015, after the Federal Court upheld the decision made by the Court of Appeal. His nomination is being backed by 10 non-governmental organisations (NGO) in Malaysia so far.

Before arguing on the reasons Anwar Ibrahim deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, we decided to look into the background of Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar/Burma, as well as Lech Wa??sa from Poland, who respectively received their Prize in 1991 and 1983. We believed that these two Laureates are similar enough to be compared with Anwar Ibrahim, for they have created a great impact towards their own nations and a certain degree of impact on democratisation.

We do think that Anwar Ibrahim deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, as he is wrongfully convicted for sodomy twice in his lifetime, in the context of a “politically loaded case”, while sacrificing his own freedom for non-violent struggle of democracy, and fighting against injustice and corruption done by an authoritarian regime, making him a prisoner of conscience.

In the past, the Nobel Peace Prize has been won by several figures who were prisoners of conscience, such as Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar, Liu Xiaobo from China, Nelson Mandela from South Africa, and Lech Wa??sa from Poland. These political dissidents have sacrificed their own freedom, in order to, either fight for democracy, or fight for the rights of the people, or even both.

This is the second time Anwar Ibrahim is being jailed as a politician, and for both of the jail terms the Amnesty International had declared him a “prisoner of conscience”. During Anwar’s first jail term, Amnesty International had stated that the trial proceedings “exposed a pattern of political manipulation of key state institutions including the police, public prosecutor’s office and the judiciary”. And as for the current jail term, Amnesty International said that the charges and trial were politically motivated. They called for immediate and unconditional release of Anwar Ibrahim. Furthermore, Anwar’s health has been deteriorating in Sungai Buloh Prison, and he is facing difficulties in receiving proper medical attention.

Before this, on 7 March 2014 Court of Appeal overturned the ruling made by the High Court which acquitted him (thus reinstating this second sodomy conviction), disrupting Anwar from contesting in the Kajang by-election on 23 March 2014. Human Rights Watch criticized the court decision for being politically motivated.

Anwar could choose to leave the country just to avoid another jail term, probably seeking for political asylum. Even by doing that, Anwar could still continue leading the opposition forces from abroad, with the advanced telecommunications and internet technologies we have now.

However, Anwar has chosen not to do so. He felt that if he fled the country, he would not be making a good example in our struggles to democratise the country. Anwar has chosen to sacrifice his own freedom and probably even his own life, as his health is deteriorating in prison. For sure, it would also mean separation with his family, though his family members may occasionally visit him in prison, albeit not without problems.

Anwar Ibrahim and Aung San Suu Kyi

This may be comparable with Aung San Suu Kyi, who had chosen to stand with her people by turning down the Burmese military regime’s offer to join her family abroad. The condition of the offer was, she would never be able to return to Myanmar. And after 1995 her husband was denied by the military regime to visit her, who was under house arrest, and he himself died of prostate cancer in 1999. Aung San Suu Kyi’s sacrifice has apparently paid off, as her consistent struggle for her people and democracy has finally helped her party, National League for Democracy (NLD), achieve great electoral victory in the 2015 General Election, winning 86% of the seats in the Assembly of the Union, which is more than 67%, the requirement to have their preferred candidate elected as President and First Vice President. Though the constitution bars Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming President (as her husband and children are not citizens of Myanmar), she declared that she would hold real power in any NLD-led government. In order to amend the constitution, there must be approval from at least one military legislator.

The situation of Anwar Ibrahim and Aung San Suu Kyi are somewhat similar. Both of them have been under political persecution by the ruling regime while their parties achieved electoral success by winning popular support under their leadership. Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest for the first time a year before her NLD won the election on 27 May 1990 with 82% of the parliamentary seats and 59% of the popular votes, but the military junta refused to recognise the results. And she remained under house arrest until 10 July 1995. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. And she was placed under house arrest again on 23 September 2000 until 6 May 2002. And she was placed under house arrest for the third time from 2003 until 13 November 2010, being extended a few times, including one illegal extension done on 27 May 2008.

As for Anwar Ibrahim – the Reformasi movement initiated by him, his supporters and civil society after being sacked as Deputy Prime Minister by then-Prime Minister Dato’ Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1998 – eventually gave birth to Parti Keadilan Nasional, the predecessor of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KEADILAN). And this party went on forming a new opposition coalition, Barisan Alternatif, together with Democratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM). This is the first time in history secular DAP had an official cooperation with the hardline Islamist PAS, as there was no other party before KEADILAN that could bring these two parties together. (However DAP withdrew from Barisan Alternatif in 2001 due to their irreconcilable differences with PAS.)

Anwar’s Reformasi movement has created new dimension for democratisation with important legacies. It showed that a cross-ethnic alliance was possible despite the divisive racial politics practised by the ruling regime over the past several decades. It also showed that non-violent struggle of democracy was possible despite the authoritarian regime’s repressive rule against the people and injustice towards Anwar and other defenders of democracy.

Anwar Ibrahim played major roles in leading several demonstrations against the authoritarian regime, such as those during the Reformasi movement, as well as the Bersih rallies in 2007, 2011 and 2012 (demanding for fair and clean elections), and also the Blackout rallies after the 2013 election, protesting against election frauds. Even before Anwar entered politics, he was already an activist during his student years, and was once detained under the controversial (now abolished) Internal Security Act (ISA) for his involvement in a protest against rural poverty and hunger. He was once notable for being the president of Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) before joining the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the dominant component party of BN, and moved up the political ranks quickly, before being sacked and expelled from the party in 1998.

Anwar Ibrahim and Lech Wa??sa

On the other hand, the Polish trade unionist Lech Wa??sa had also led in several workers’ demonstrations and strikes, demanding the Communist regime for better living conditions and workers’ rights. As a result, he was once fired from his job in the Lenin Shipyard (now Gda?sk Shipyard), though reinstated 6 years later. He was frequently detained by the Communist regime and also underwent surveillance. His actions even earned support from the Roman Catholic Church and the intellectuals. He eventually made his way into negotiations with the authorities which resulted in the Gda?sk Agreement on 31 August 1980, which gave the workers the right to strike and to organize their own independent unions. However his movement, Solidarity, was once banned in December 1981, and later his Nobel Peace Prize was announced in October 1983. Another negotiation he made with the authorities, upon worsened economic conditions, eventually brought to an end of the authoritarian rule and democratized Poland, enabling his Solidarity to win election in 1989 and have himself elected as President in 1990, until his defeat in November 1995.

In the 2008 General Election, KEADILAN won 31 Parliamentary seats and became the largest opposition party in the Parliament. KEADILAN, together with DAP and PAS, formed a new opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat. Back then this alliance had 81 seats in combined, breaking BN’s long-standing two-thirds majority in the Parliament. In the 13th General Election, Pakatan Rakyat obtained 50.9% of the popular votes (while BN had 47.4%) but was only able to win 89 out of the 222 seats in the Parliament (thus BN won 133).

As an opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim has been critical of the BN government’s distorted policies, notably his problematisation of the New Economic Policy (NEP). He also called for the need of democratic accountability, an independent judiciary and free media, in order to combat corruption.

Though Anwar failed to get BN parliamentarians to defect to his side on 16 September 2008, this nonetheless made the entire nation awaken and began to appreciate the importance of the date 16 September, for it was the date of the formation of Malaysia in 1963 (between Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore). Since then, from 2009 onwards, 16 September, being “Malaysia Day”, became a public holiday for the entire country, as it was previously a public holiday only for Sabah and Sarawak. And politicians from both sides of the political divide began to realise the need to address the rights of Sabah and Sarawak (together called “East Malaysia”), as many people from these two states felt that their rights and interests have been compromised by the federal government based in West Malaysia, up to the extent that the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, an international treaty, is being violated.

Anwar Ibrahim made a revolutionary impact towards Malaysian politics, as he formed the Malay-dominated multiracial party KEADILAN, while previously there was no similar party that could achieve such success. KEADILAN is a party which its racial composition matches the national racial composition the closest, as compared with other major political parties in Malaysia, therefore making it the “most multiracial” party here. Before the formation of KEADILAN, the Malays were mostly divided into UMNO and PAS for several decades, with a mere few years of Semangat 46 (S46), a splinter party of UMNO. UMNO and S46 are restricted to Bumiputera, while PAS is restricted to Muslims.

Before KEADILAN, there was never a Malay-dominated multiracial party that could achieve such great electoral success. Other multiracial parties such as DAP and Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (a component party of BN) are dominated by Chinese and other ethnic minorities. The emergence of KEADILAN has practically provided a good political platform for the moderate Malays, for UMNO has been based on Malay nationalism, while PAS has been based on Islamism. KEADILAN has practically filled a political gap between UMNO and PAS, which effectively provided an alternative voice apart from the Malay nationalist and Islamist sentiments by UMNO and PAS, and bring the entire nation into attention on democratisation and good governance and cross-cultural issues such as corruption or abuse of power, rising of living cost, and freedom of speech.

With KEADILAN under Anwar’s leadership, there were chances for DAP and PAS to work together as one alliance against BN, though the ideologies of secular DAP and hardline Islamist PAS seem irreconcilable. They formed a formidable force against the authoritarian regime by uniting opposition forces of difference races and ethnicities, and challenge the racist policies of the oppressive regime. And it is evident that without Anwar, DAP and PAS would eventually break apart over their own differences, which other than what happened in Barisan Alternatif in 2001, Pakatan Rakyat has broken apart in 2015, a few months after the imprisonment of Anwar Ibrahim. (Later, KEADILAN and DAP, together with Parti Amanah Negara, a splinter party of PAS, formed a new opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan)

This is unlike Aung San Suu Kyi who failed (or perhaps unwilling) to defend to basic human rights of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, who have been persecuted by the government. Her NLD even refused to send Muslim candidates for election. She bowed down to the anti-Rohingya or anti-Muslim sentiments in her country. This somehow shows that Anwar Ibrahim is better than Aung San Suu Kyi, who refuses to bow down to the racist sentiments among Malay nationalists, but rather strive for a middle path and bring the people from different races and religions together.

Based on the political success and sacrifices done by Anwar Ibrahim, we do think that he is comparable with at least some of the Nobel Peace Laureates, therefore deserves the Nobel Prize. After all, there were also lesser figures who have won the Prize as well, such as Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan who won in 2014. Additionally, some cases were quite controversial as well, such as Barack Obama who won in 2009 – less than a year being the President of the United States – had been quite controversial.

If they could get the Prize, why not Anwar, who has been tirelessly fighting for democracy – himself an indefatigable defender of human dignity and against injustice – even from prison? Now that the international community’s appeal for releasing him is growing, just as what they did for Aung San Suu Kyi.

Based on the background of Anwar Ibrahim, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Lech Wa??sa, we should be able to notice that these three of them created a massive impact onto the politics of democracy and reform of their respective countries.

Under the leadership of Anwar Ibrahim and Aung San Suu Kyi, their respective political forces managed to win popular support in their respective countries. As for Lech Wa??sa, being a trade unionist, his leadership of the workers’ movements successfully pressured the Communist regime of Poland to bow down to their demands and gave more rights to the workers, and eventually democratising the country upon the end of the Cold War.

Anwar Ibrahim’s involvement in political activities and social movements have been characterised by a determination to solve his country’s problems of democracy through negotiation and cooperation – without resorting to violence. We believe his own sacrificing of freedom and continuing struggle to seek non-violent political change in the years ahead, will eventually democratise the country.

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