28 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?


Just the day before the Federal Court upheld the guilty verdict for Anwar Ibrahim and sentenced him to five years’ jail, Mahathir Mohamad told the media that Malaysia “is a democratic country”, and that ‘if people want Lim Kit Siang to be the prime minister, the constitution does not prevent him even though he is a Chinese”.

Yes, nothing in the constitution that bars any rightful Malaysian citizen from assuming the highest political office in the country, theoretically and legally speaking. However, having witnessed what has happened to Anwar and his family over the last 17 years, would anyone in his or her right mind earnestly believe Malaysia is indeed so free and democratic that he or she can rise to the top job safely and on merit?

Not when one is not part of the traditional elite within Umno. Then again, one does not need to make it on merit if one is in Umno’s good books.

Granted, Anwar was once a member of the entrenched elite, for several years the heir apparent to Mahathir. But his fall from grace was so dramatic and shocking that he has gone to the other extreme by becoming an icon of the people power.

Mahathir, too, was once an outsider within Umno, with no royal lineage and elitist educational background. But with brilliant yet cunning political maneuvering, he rose through the rank to become a tyrant, far more autocratic than all of his predecessors. His family allegedly became filthy rich on his watch, and the Mahathir clan is now very much part of the inner elite circle within Umno that decides Malaysia’s fate.

While Mahathir, Daim Zainuddin (right) and Kadir Jasin may not see eye to eye with Najib Abdul Razak on a host of issues, they have never been clouded from the fact that their common enemy has always been Anwar, for the vision that the latter advocates could turn the political structure carefully designed by Umno upside down and threaten the vested interests of its leaders.

Malaysia’s political culture has long been based on fear and feudalism. That Anwar and his allies have demonstrated their determination to change it is unforgiveable. If change came to pass, it would jeopardise the entrenched interests of Malaysia’s traditional elites, monarchists and the military, a reason why these powerful ruling factions of the ruling class were wary or even bitterly hostile toward Anwar.

Five years in jail plus five years ban on politics. By the time when Anwar is free to participate in electoral politics again, Umno will have ruled Malaya/Malaysia for nearly 70 years. It also means that the party will have spent nearly half of it persecuting one individual and his family.

World record indeed, and Malaysia Boleh!

Najib had always wanted to put Anwar in jail back in 2012, but with the general election in mind and fearing public backlash especially the non-Malay vote, he decided to set him free. As we all know, the electorate did not appreciate Najib’s ‘goodwill’ as a ‘liberal’ and ‘reformist’, but went on to deny him legitimacy in GE13 as his coalition lost the popular vote.

Perhaps no prime minister in Malaysia’s history has suffered so much humiliation and taunting by the people, who openly ridiculed him and his vainglorious wife. Once the election was over, his fangs showed.

What was the point of finding Anwar not guilty if the public remained ungrateful to Umno?

Now that Anwar is behind bars, I am pretty sure the Najib regime would use the next three years to “return happiness to the people” with all the goodies so that Malaysians would forget all the injustice done, just like Thailand under the current military dictatorship.

Are Malaysians ‘happy to be happy’?

But are Malaysians so forgetful and “happy to be happy”? Time will tell, although I am not hopeful.

Just before GE13, many ‘neutral’ and ‘objective’ (and elitist) pundits were arguing Malaysia’s judiciary was independent as seen in Anwar’s acquittal by the High Court in January 2012; they also said the Malaysian opposition had always had a fair chance of winning as seen in Kelantan, Penang and Selangor.

I hope these so-called ‘impartial’, ‘whack-both-sides’ elites can revisit what they wrote and do a bit of soul searching in the wake of the redelineation exercise in Sawarak and the Federal Court’s verdict on Anwar.

And of course the ‘moderate’ voices exemplified by none other than Marina Mahathir have been conspicuous by their silence on the utterly shameless verdict. They continue to go around the country and put up a good show about ‘moderation’ and ‘liberalism’; some have even been more than glad to seek the help of Mahathir who is anything but moderate.

However, when it comes to the insanity of Anwar’s sodomy charges which speak volumes of our rotten judiciary, these ‘moderate’ voices are nowhere to be heard.

And I understand why. After all, it was under Mahathir that judges were sacked for their bravery to defy Umno. More importantly, the Barisan Nasional government made an amendment to the constitution with serious but negative implications on the separation of powers. The Syariah courts were also given greater powers which resulted in the subsequent dual judicial systems,  now a bane for the country.

Therefore, it is hard for those ‘neutral’ elites to criticise the Federal Court’s decision last Tuesday, for they cannot do so without revisiting the destruction of our once independent judiciary under Mahathir!

In short, Anwar’s real crime is not sodomy, which was a farce from the very beginning, but his vow to challenge and dismantle the status quo. Little wonder that Umno, the business elites and the royal households have been frightened of the influence that he has had on the masses.

Still, it puzzles me to see Malaysia can remain so indifferent to a travesty of justice on this  scale. Anwar is no doubt a divisive figure and I never count myself a staunch supporter of his. However, if a man whose ‘wrongdoing’ is nothing more than a legitimate inspiration to lead the country beyond Umno should suffer so horribly and mercilessly, who else would dare to give it a try in the future?

I care not if a non-Malay would become prime minister; that is not an issue. The crux of the matter is no Malaysian will ever be safe from persecution should his or her legitimate ambitions be a menace to Umno, even if he or she is a true-blue Malay like Anwar, and knowing this fact alone does chill me to the bones.

27 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?


It is the home minister and not the Attorney-General (A-G) who decides if Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim can attend next month’s Parliament sitting, Pakatan Rakyat MPs said today.

They said Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was wrong in stating that it was up to the A-G to allow Anwar, the Permatang Pauh MP, to attend the session.

“This is wrong and a blatant attempt to evade responsibility. The Prisons Department is under the home ministry and not the A-G.

“Only the home minister or the federal government has the power to allow Anwar to attend Parliament sitting.”Zahid has to agree to this and give the appropriate directive to the Prisons Department, ” said PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP, Nurul Izzah Anwar during a joint press conference with her PR colleagues, today.

Yesterday, Zahid said the matter of Anwar’s attendance at the next Parliament sitting scheduled from March 9 to April 9 must be referred to the A-G.

His stand differed from his deputy, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who said the ministry would consider Anwar’s application.

“I beg to differ with my deputy minister who made the media statement, the case must be referred to the A-G.

“There is no need for individual opinions, whether among ministers or politicians, we have to leave the responsibility to legal practitioners especially the A-G to interpret based on the provisions in the federal constitution, and other clauses in related laws,” Zahid said.

Through his lawyers, Anwar had written to the home minister two days ago to request permission to attend the Parliament sitting.

Nurul Izzah, who is Anwar’s eldest daughter, cited Section 31 (1) (a) of the Prisons Act which states that the prisons commissioner-general can approve Anwar’s request to be in Parliament provided he is satisfied there are reasonable grounds for it.

The PKR vice-president then showed reporters an invitation from Parliament speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to Anwar to attend the first day of sitting which will be opened by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“We have written to both the Parliament speaker and the prisons commissioner-general on this matter,” she added.

PKR’s Batu MP Tian Chua said by convention, prisoners are required to write to the prison authorities if they wanted to attend important private functions like hospital appointments, funerals or weddings of close family members, and the home minister will decide whether to allow the request.

“It is totally wrong in terms of legal knowledge to pass the buck to the A-G. The A-G has no power to decide on the welfare of prisoners,” he said.

If Zahid refused to allow the de facto PKR leader to attend parliament, the PKR vice-president said the Umno minister should give strong valid reasons.

Anwar’s lawyer, N. Surendran, said Zahid was wrong to state that the A-G had to decide on this matter.

“Since when is the Prisons Department under the A-G? Zahid should not beat around the bush but should instead facilitate Anwar’s request,” he said.

DAP’s Teresa Kok said the eyes of the world are currently on Anwar’s case and Putrajaya’s handling of it made the ruling Barisan Nasional government look bad.

“The world is watching Malaysia… I hope the home minister can correct his mistake,” said Kok, who is Seputeh MP.

PAS’s Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said when Parliament convenes in two weeks for the first time this year, Anwar should be among the federal lawmakers in attendance and should not be prevented from discharging his duties.

“This is the will of the people. Anwar’s presence will ensure the interests of the people are defended,” he said.

On February 10, a five-man bench led by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria found Anwar guilty of having carnal intercourse with his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

He was alleged to have committed the offence at a unit of the Desa Damansara condominium in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.

Anwar is still the opposition leader and Permatang Pauh MP after his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Nurul Izzah presented a petition for a royal pardon to Istana Negara on Tuesday afternoon, just before the 14-day deadline expired.

The Federal Constitution states that the seat will not be declared vacant until the Pardons Board has deliberated and made a decision on the appeal for clemency.

Pandikar also said Anwar was still an MP until a decision was made.

25 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?


The Federal Court’s verdict in the case of Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim vs. Public Prosecutor on 10th February 2015 marks the conclusion of a morally reprehensible persecution of a high-profile political opponent. The verdict symbolised a travesty of justice and a destruction of judicial independence.

The Malaysian Bar Council had expressed great doubts and referred to the “glaring anomalies” in how the verdict was reached. International reactions had also been rightfully harsh, as embassies and high commissions from United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, among many others, concluded that the verdict had sufficiently raised serious questions about the independence of the Malaysian judiciary.

We, as an international student movement named Malaysian Progressives in the UK, would like to make three key demands to the Malaysian government:

1.  Free Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim from prison

2.  Form committees to formulate reforms in the judiciary to uphold the universally cherished principle of judicial independence

3.  Address the serious issue of abuse of power by the executive body

Firstly, the Malaysian government should immediately free Anwar Ibrahim, who had been considered a ‘prisoner of conscience’ by the Human Rights Watch. It would make a mockery of the government’s commitment to human rights and make clear its political motivations if it continues persecuting one man for the past 17 years.

Moreover, committees must be formed to address judicial reforms as judicial independence remains a universally recognised foundation of any functioning democracy. We vehemently denounce the Federal Court verdict as the deliberate omissions and biased considerations of arguments had made the motivations of the judges questionable. The scales of justice are tipped and ordinary people suffer when judges are influenced by external pressures and not solely by their intellect and conscience. The people depend on an independent and impartial court as rights do only really exists if there is a functioning mechanism that can be trusted. Judicial propriety is how the public perceives judges’ behaviour, and confidence in the judicial system is not sustained when impartiality and independence are not observed.

Thirdly, the issue of abuse of power by the executive branch must be addressed. The executive should recognise the independent and constitutional position of the judiciary and have a proper understanding of what these entail. The executive branch must conduct its business without interference with the independence of the judiciary. Bitter memories will recall that it was none other than the executive branch that brought about the 1988 judicial crisis that witnessed a decline in public confidence of the Malaysian legal system with accusations of judicial improprieties, corruption, bias and judicial misconduct. The rule of law shall not face compromise for the political and personal gains of the executive.

Therefore, we stand in solidarity with Anwar Ibrahim and the rest of the world on the side of justice with these three key demands. Our grievances will culminate in a demonstration powered by Malaysian students across the United Kingdom and established international organisations on the 7th of March, 2015 at Central London.

25 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?


Tindakan keluarga Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim memohon pengampunan Diraja kepada Yang Dipertuan Agong pada saat-saat akhir 24 Februari 2015, bagi hukuman penjara lima tahun yang sedang dijalaninya, tidak syak lagi merupakan kejutan yang tidak disangka-sangka kepada semua orang.

Sebelum ini beberapa pemimpin PKR, termasuk Rafizi Ramli dan Saifuddin Nasution juga menyatakan Anwar tidak bercadang untuk memohon pengampunan, sebaliknya kekal dengan pendirian tidak bersalah atas pemenjaraan yang dikenakan terhadapnya.

Sehubungan itu, menjelang berakhirnya tempoh akhir mengemukakan rayuan pada 24 Februari 2015, PKR menyatakan kesediaan untuk menghadapi pilihan raya kecil Permatang Pauh yang bakal diadakan nanti.

Umno juga mengharapkan Anwar tidak mengemukakan rayuan dengan menghebohkan ianya merupakan tindakan yang memalukan kerana ia dikatakan bermaksud beliau mengakui semua kesalahannya.

Lebih dari itu, Umno yang mungkin tidak meletakkan calon di DUN Chempaka berikutan kematian Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, ternampak lebih ghairah untuk pilihan raya kecil Permatang Pauh di mana bukan saja ramai pemimpinnya sudah bercakap mengenai pilihan raya itu, bahkan peguam Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah juga sudah pun “turun padang” berceramah ke kawasan itu.

Bagi Umno, bertanding di Permatang Pauh adalah medan untuk menunjukkan keberanian manakala tidak bertanding di Chempaka adalah tanda berbuat baik dan ingin bercanda-candaan dengan PAS.

Tetapi dengan Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail dan anaknya Nurul Nuha muncul di Istana Negara petang 24 Februari 2015 bagi mengemukakan rayuan, semuanya jadi tersangkut dan kelam-kabut.

Rayuan ini difahamkan dikemukakan atas nama keluarga dan bukannya atas nama parti berdasarkan tiga alasan iaitu prinsip keadilan diketepikan, Anwar dizalimi dengan fitnah dan ketiga kerana berpegang semua pertuduhan adalah konspirasi politik.

Dengan petisyen rayuan ini dikemukakan, bermakna kekosongan kerusi Parlimen Permatang Pauh belum boleh diumumkan sehingga ada jawapan mengenainya. Jika setahun baru ada keputusan, bermakna dalam tempoh itu tiadalah pilihan raya kecil akan diadakan.

Ia juga bermaksud Anwar akan terus kekal sebagai Ketua Pembangkang dan Ahli Parlimen Permatang Pauh sehingga ada keputusan sebaliknya selepas itu.

Walaupun ramai yang beranggapan dengan mengemukakan petisyen rayuan ini bermakna Anwar mengaku bersalah atas perbuatan liwat yang dihadapkan kepadanya, tetapi ia tidak semestinya bermaksud demikian.

Mengemukakan petisyen kepada Yang Dipertuan Agong adalah sebahagian daripada proses menuntut pembebasan setelah semua proses mahkamah dilalui dan ia tidak bermakna suatu bentuk pengakuan bersalah. Adalah rugi jika peruntukan yang dibenarkan Perlembagaan ini tidak dimanfaatkan.

Lagi pula, tiga alasan yang dikemukakan sebagai asas mengemukakan rayuan itu bukan saja boleh diterima, bahkan bertepatan dengan pendirian Anwar selama ini.

Setelah petisyen ini dikemukakan, kini terpulanglah kepada Yang Dipertuan Agong sama ada mahu menerima atau menolaknya. Begitu juga berapa lama keputusan mengenainya mahu dibuat.

Namun, semua ini akan terus menghangatkan percakapan politik kedua-dua belah pihak iaitu Barisan Nasional dan Pakatan Rakyat mengenainya. Berbanding jika tidak mengemukakan petisyen dan kedudukan Anwar sebagai ahli Parlimen digantikan dengan orang lain yang mungkin menyebabkan dirinya tidak lagi penting selepas itu, sebaliknya sekarang ini Anwar kekal dianggap sebagai ketua yang boleh memberi pelbagai arahan dari dalam penjara.

Pertikaian mengenai siapa Ketua Pembangkang untuk menggantikan Anwar secara automatik tidak berbangkit lagi.

Sementara itu, dengan tertangguhnya pilihan raya kecil Permatang Pauh ini, apakah pula pendirian Umno dalam pilihan raya kecil Dun Chempaka tidak lama lagi? Kekal tidak bertanding atau bakal berubah fikiran?

Jika tidak bertanding di Chempaka dan lagak mahu tunjuk berani di Permatang Pauh pula sudah tergendala, Umno sudah pasti akan dilihat sebagai “parti betina” yang sudah hilang kejantanannya.

Apakah juga dengan adanya rayuan ini dan beserta dengan kemungkinan Anwar dibebaskan atas pertimbangan Yang Dipertuan Agong, ia turut berjaya meredakan banyak ketegangan dalam PR, terutama antara PAS dan DAP sekarang ini?

Di ketika yang sama, kerana Datuk Seri Najib Razak terus ditekan dalam Umno dan bekas Perdana Menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad terus kritikal terhadap pentadbirannya, petisyen rayuan ini juga menimbulkan semula persepsi adanya “ehem ehem” antara Najib dengan Anwar sebagaimana yang banyak diperkatakan sebelum ini.

Apa pun, permohonan petisyen rayuan di saat-saat akhir tetap dilihat sebagai “strategi luar kotak” yang difikirkan Anwar dari dalam penjara. Anwar nampaknya tetap berjuang dan tidak pernah mengaku kalah.

25 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?


With the jailing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim last week, Malaysia appears to have again resorted to dubious law to eliminate political challenges.

The prison term and the ban together bar the 67 year old from politics for a total of 10 years, effectively ending his political career.

This unfortunate practice has been seen in many Asian nations: Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore are in the unsavoury line-up.

All too often, the courts are used to shape the course of politics. Opponents and vocal critics are arrested, charged, convicted and jailed. Sometimes the courts are doing the governments’ bidding. Sometimes, it seems, the courts are trying to second-guess the desires of the nation’s rulers or to put their own (usually conservative) stamp on developments.

Whether at the government’s instigation, or acting on its own initiative, Malaysia’s highest court trod a regressive line on Mr Anwar’s case. Rejecting an appeal against his conviction on a charge of “sodomy” (having sexual relations in 2008 with a young man who had worked for him), the court upheld the five-year jail sentence handed down by a lower court last March.

Prison terms of more than one year in Malaysia also carry a five-year ban on standing for political office, effective from the date of release. The prison term and the ban together bar the 67 year old from politics for a total of 10 years, effectively ending his political career.

Critics around the world have deplored the ruling, the archaic law, and Malaysia’s failure to deal in a mature and responsible way with Mr Anwar, whose three-party Pakatan Rakyat alliance almost toppled the government at the last national election.

Ordinary Malaysians are increasingly fed up with the vast wealth displayed by the nation’s elites, by the abrogation of rule of law, and the rulers’ almost casual disregard of people’s needs. There is fear the rulers’ rampant greed is influencing their political decisions and Malaysia is the poorer for it. The ruling UMNO party, the United Malays National Organisation which has enjoyed nearly six decades of running Malaysia, is on the nose.

Pakatan campaigned in the last election as a clean player and one that would provide a long-overdue change from Malaysia’s usual system of entrenched patronage and corruption. Led by Mr Anwar, Pakatan won most ballots in the poll and the coalition was only prevented from taking power by the distribution of votes in Malaysia’s gerrymandered seats.

Since his sentencing, Mr Anwar has been no real threat to the Malaysian government. Locked up in a spartan jail cell (with a thin foam mattress on the floor and a squat toilet, according to his lawyers), his political career has been cut short, his ambitions stymied. A challenge to the government has been quashed. Yet the government insists the judges determined Mr Anwar’s guilt with no political interference and the independence of the judiciary was in no way compromised.

The Human Rights Watch monitoring group described the court’s verdict as a “travesty” and cited research that noted the discriminatory law under which Mr Anwar had been convicted had only been wheeled out seven times since 1938.

It’s almost impossible to tell whether or not the judges were entirely judicially impartial, or whether anyone from the government gave them a nudge, or whether they acted independently to rid the government of a vocal critic. In any case, the nature of the so-called crime and the hounding of Mr Anwar over the years has stained Malaysia’s reputation. The sooner that particular “sodomy” law is abolished, the better for the nation.

On the face of it, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak can now rest easy but he and his supporters should remember that Mr Anwar’s most vocal critics from within the ruling UMNO party may well now turn their sights on the Prime Minister.

With the threat of the popular Mr Anwar looming large, they stood firm behind the party boss. With that threat largely eliminated, these in-party critics may feel the leash is off. Certainly Dr Mahathir Mohamad, once a long-standing UMNO prime minister, has cast aside party allegiances to publicly excoriate Mr Najib’s performance and ask him to resign.

At the same time, the recent arrest of an outspoken political cartoonist known as Zunar, for a typically critical tweet slamming Mr Anwar’s verdict, has done little to reassure those international observers who doubt the government’s direction.

Using archaic sedition laws to silence critics such as Zunar is hardly the mark of a modern, moderate nation in charge of its destiny.

23 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?


Muslim intellectuals have called for their fellow believers to indentify societal failures and develop an Islam for the 21st century. Loay Mudhoon believes that Europe should unreservedly support this effort.

In a clearly formulated manifesto last week, four well-known Muslim intellectuals appealed to all Muslim political and religious leaders to stand up and support a democratic Islam. In their letter, they also laid out some concrete steps, among them a conference in France early next year that would “define the contours of a progressive interpretation of Islam firmly grounded in the 21st century.”

The four men behind this letter are Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies at the University of Oxford; Anwar Ibrahim, the head of Malaysia’s national opposition and chairman of the World Forum for Muslim Democrats; Ghaleb Bencheikh, the president of the World Conference for Religions for Peace; and Felix Marquardt, founder of the Abd al-Ra?man al-Kawakibi Foundation. They’re hard on their fellow Muslims and ask tough questions. In their letter, they call for a clear-eyed diagnosis of Islam’s current plight and want to develop a fundamental critique of Islamic culture and religion.

The authors rightly ask, for example: Why have the regular calls for “an Islamic Renaissance” largely gone unanswered? Why did the “uncompromising critical analysis of the Quran and the prophetic traditions,” launched at the beginning of the 20th century, not lead to a lasting Islamic path to modernity? Why are innovative reformers who are looking for a connection between modernity and Islamic norms and values often forced to stand on the edge of society, fighting a losing battle?

Crucial question

Given the current wave of violence undertaken in the name of Islam, it’s vital that moderate Muslims regain the authority to interpret the contents of their faith as soon as possible.

To achieve this goal, it’s essential to ask the crucial question: Who should be allowed to define what is considered “Islamic”? After all, Islam, unlike the Catholic Church, has no hierarchical structure and no ultimate authority on the faith’s doctrine.

The absence of such a central authority may seem to many intellectuals, in the West and elsewhere, as quite democratic and, in a way, fascinating. But it’s highly problematic for Islam because it allows lay theologians and bigoted hate preachers of all stripes to say their terrorist and barbaric acts have been “legitimized” by their religion – and thereby twist basic Islamic norms into absurdity.

To make matters worse, in many Islamic countries culturally parochial phenomena – like the Wahhabism that prevails in Saudi Arabia – are misunderstood as religious dogma, even though they have little to do with the religion of Islam.

Reforms needed

Four years after the Arab Spring, the hopes that a wave of democratization would wash over the Arab world have largely been disappointed. In that time, dialogues within the Islamic world – debates on the ways and concepts needed to solve pressing problems – have rarely taken place, if at all. The “Islamic world” itself does not exist as a unified political entity and never has. It remains fragmented, with the majority of Islamic states busy with internal conflicts and numerous proxy wars – and not with discussions about reform.

Since no substantial reform impetus can be expected from the Islamic world, this call to all “Muslim democrats” could end up having an epochal significance. Indeed, all Muslim authorities, reform-minded theologians and decision-makers should accept this invitation and attend the joint conference in 2016!

This is perhaps a historical possibility for Muslim democrats from around the world to develop a new, innovative recipe for an Islamic path to modernity. We urgently need a viable Islamic model, accepted by all, that supports the complex realities of pluralistic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies – including those heavily shaped by immigration. And Europe should strongly foster this process. It’s in the continent’s own interest – not only as an alternative to jihadism, but also because Europe sees itself as a community of democratic values.

18 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?

The AG must admonish and revoke Shafee’s appointment as ad hoc DPP
Press Statement
18 Februari 2015

Lawyers for Liberty is shocked and disgusted by Shafee Abdullah’s continuous attack against Anwar Ibrahim since his conviction on 10 February by giving a series of widely published interviews and cumulating in yesterday’s X-rated and vile forum organised by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

As we have stated in the past, Shafee’s appointment as ad hoc Deputy Public Prosecutor smacked of desperation and has set a bad precedent, sending the wrong message that the authorities would go to extraordinary lengths to secure the conviction of UMNO’s political adversaries.

Shafee is a well known UMNO lawyer and has appeared in court and advised in several matters that concern UMNO’s interests and has admitted so in his CV. He has acted and advised former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor, all known and bitter political adversaries of Anwar.

Like Caesar’s wife, Shafee acting as a prosecutor must be above any trace of suspicion. One certainly cannot believe without flight of fancy that he had afforded Anwar a fair trial. Shafee’s recent conduct merely reaffirmed his role as Umno’s hatchet man with a vendetta, out to character assassinate Anwar even as the latter is languishing in Sungai Buloh prison, unable to defend himself.

It cannot be over emphasised that the Public Prosecutor represents the State, the community at large and the interest of justice, and not UMNO. The purpose of a criminal prosecution is not to obtain a conviction but to place fairly and independently before the courts all available evidence to what is alleged to be a crime.

We therefore call upon the Attorney-General to admonish and revoke Shafee’s appointment as ad hoc DPP to prevent further public contempt and erosion of public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the AG’s Chambers.

Released by:

Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty

17 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?


When government opted to appoint Muhammad Shafee Abdullah as lead prosecutor in handling Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal, it implied that Anwar’s case was too big and too serious that the Attorney-General and his team was not confident enough to conduct the appeal.

Maybe, in the eyes of the AG, the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu murder was less significant than Anwar’s ‘crime’ so much so that he did not consider fit and proper to engage a private lawyer to secure conviction for political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda (left) so that Razak could have been served with a death warrant.

Razak was acquitted by the High Court but the AG did not lodge an appeal against such a decision. On the other hand, when Anwar was released by the High Court, the AG proceeded with the appeal and used public funds to engage a lawyer who is well known to charge exorbitant legal fees for his services.

Both Razak and Anwar are linked to the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Razak was Najib’s close associate and Anwar is his political enemy. His associate is now in London and his political rival landed in Sungai Buloh’s prison.

Double standards

While it is not wrong to engage a private lawyer to helm the prosecution team, it is definitely not right to practice double standards in any prosecutorial exercise of powers.

It is also not right for the government to hide from the public the actual fees it has to pay to secure Shafee’s service.

It goes without saying that when public funds are used , the public has every right to know how much the government has paid Shafee.

Many Pakatan Rakyat members of Parliament including myself, have sought this information in Parliament, but the government has refused to divulge it citing that such information is classified thus protected under the Official Secrets Act .

Whilst matters dealing with national security ought to be duly protected under the Act, the government must be seriously joking to imply that Shafee’s legal fees would endanger the nation should such information be revealed to the public.

The government cannot run away from the public perception that Anwar’s trial was politically-motivated.

To begin with, you do not see in any other criminal cases that a complainant is allowed to make a telephone call to the inspector-general of police on the latter’s direct line. But it happened in the Anwar’s trial. Neither does any ordinary complainant in any criminal trial would have been given a chance to go to the prime minister’s private residence, as was done by sodomy complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Adding salt to injury

When Shafee helmed the prosecution team in Anwar’s appeal, it only enhanced such a perception, and to add salt to injury, Shafee continued his onslaught against Anwar even after the Anwar’s conviction.

Such an unprecedented attack only reaffirms the popular belief that political conspiracy has been deeply embedded in Anwar’s saga. The court of law may reject the defence of political conspiracy but not in the court of public opinion.

Despite his vast experience handling criminal trials, Shafee is unfortunately infected by unnecessary overzealousnes and committed the gravest mistake by condemning Anwar for his refusal to give evidence under oath.

False logic

Shafee’s false logic can be easily detected when he compared Anwar with Saiful.

His logic goes like this: Saiful was brave enough to testify in court and subject to strenuous cross-examination by the defence lawyers, so why did Anwar refuse to undergo the same process?

This argument is based on the erroneous presumption that both the complainant and the accused person in a criminal trial bear the same responsibility as far as in giving their testimonies in court is concerned. Herein lies Shafee’s Achilles heel.

Needless to say that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty and he is not legally-obligated to say anything in a criminal trial.

Even when the defence is called, the law allows the accused, like Anwar, to opt for one of the three options available to him. He may choose to remain silent or give evidence without oath or give a sworn evidence and subjected to cross examination.

Nothing to do with bravery

The ball is completely in the accused’s court to elect one of these available options. In other words, the accused in any criminal trial is not a witness that can be compelled.

The same rule does not apply to Saiful, being the complainant in the Anwar’s trial. There is no question that Saiful was brave enough to testify and ready to be subjected to rigorous cross examination.

Being the complainant he has no option but to testify in court. He was a witness who could be compelled. Hence his evidence has nothing to do with his bravery as Shafee tried argue.

Being a senior practitioner, Shafee should have not made any unsolicited remarks against Anwar when Anwar elected to give evidence in the dock. His comment that Anwar was a coward and would have fainted if cross-examined was really unnecessary and uncalled for.

After all Anwar was not the first accused in this world who gave evidence in the dock. Anwar did nothing unusual by resorting to such an option . What is really unusual is Shafee going crazy by condemning Anwar, outside the courtroom, for resorting to a legal option available to him.

Truth be told, Anwar had given sworn statements in his last two trials and as before he maintained the defence of political conspiracy. Thus it is incorrect to associate Anwar with cowardice just because Anwar departed from his usual choices.

In fact, Shafee should have accused Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his beloved wife Rosmah Mansor of cowardice par excellence for blatantly refusing to give evidence when they were summoned by Anwar’s legal team as witnesses for the defence. Both Najib and Rosmah applied to set aside the subpoenas issued against them.

No need for cheap stunts

As long as Anwar chose a recognised defence, he should not have been subjected to any adverse comments by anybody, let alone the prosecutor like Shafee.

Apart from the defence of political conspiracy, Anwar’s prime defence in this trial was a lack of penetration. Since the penetration stands as an essential ingredient of the charge under Section 377B of the Penal Code which Anwar was charged under, the lack of it should have exonerated him.

Anwar’s lawyers believed that when the prosecution failed to prove such an essential ingredient, there was no necessity for Anwar to give a sworn statement in order to plug in the loopholes of the prosecution’s case.

In a criminal trial, the duty of the accused is not to disprove or to unlock the prosecution’s proof. On the contrary, the law only obligates the accused to cast reasonable doubt of the prosecution’s case.

Casting doubt of the prosecution’s case may be done by various modes and it is never confined to a sworn evidence by the accused in a witness box. To blame Anwar for refusing to testify on oath reflects shallow understanding of the operating mechanism of criminal law.

Viewed from this perspective , I would submit that Anwar did the right thing by calling his expert witnesses to cast the doubt on the evidence offered by the prosecution on the issue of penetration. Anwar himself has neither expertise nor obligation to give evidence on oath to disprove penetration.

To his credit , the High Court judge was convinced with the evidence of those experts and in turn held there were reasonable doubts and thus unsafe to convict Anwar.

Shafee is ready to swear in the holy land of Mecca to prove Anwar’s guilty. To be honest, in resorting to this stunt, I must say that I see no difference between Shafee and Saiful. So naive and so desperate!

Maybe I need to remind Shafee that he need not resort to all these cheap stunts if he is truly convinced that Anwar is guilty.

Maybe Shafee is unaware that Abu Jahal, the pagan Arab and the strongest opponent of the Prophet Muhammad also used to pray in the holy land asking the Lord to destroy the Prophet Muhammad for he believed the Prophet Muhammad guilty of causing disunity among the Arabs.

But God operates in mysterious ways. Indeed, Abu Jahal was ultimately destroyed.

MOHAMED HANIPA MAIDIN is a lawyer and PAS MP for Sepang.

17 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?


Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today said Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman was playing to the gallery when he claimed that Anwar had sent a businessman to entice him and other Sabah MPs to defect to the opposition, the court heard today.

Anwar said Anifah made the allegation because the Umno general assembly was on at the time.

“Obviously, it was made for a specific audience and for the Umno media,” the jailed opposition leader said when re-examined by his lawyer Razlan Hadri Zulkifili today.


He said Anifah’s allegation was also an afterthought because it was not pleaded in his defence earlier in 2009.Anwar has filed a RM100 million suit against the minister for defamatory words uttered during a news conference in Washington with former United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Anifah had told reporters then that Anwar offered him the post of deputy prime minister if he enticed federal lawmakers from Sabah to topple the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government by joining the opposition.

In his statement of claim, Anwar alleged that Anifah’s claims were baseless, unfounded and grossly negligent and had been widely reported in local and foreign media.

Anwar, who was convicted for sodomy by the Federal Court a week ago, was brought by prison officials to give evidence following Anifah’s successful application to amend his defence last December.

On November 27, Anifah took the stand and said businessman Datuk Ishak Ismail, a close associate of Anwar, had offered him RM100 million to bring 10 MPs from Sabah to join PR and topple the BN federal government in 2008.

But he did not include this piece of evidence when he filed his defence in 2009, which had only stated that he was offered the post of deputy prime minister.

Anwar said he had not been close to Ishak since he was sacked from the government in 1998 and had only met him once in Munich, Germany in 2004.

“To survive, he and others has to cut all ties with me. This is how the system operates in this country,” he said, adding that any suggestion that the businessman was his crony was absurd.

He said Anifah, the Kimanis MP, must be familiar with the crony system but that it did not necessarily apply to all.

Anwar, who was finance minister between 1991 and 1998, said he knew hundreds of businessmen while in that position as they had submitted business proposals and held meetings with him.

Anwar, who held the position of deputy prime minister from 1993 until his removal in 1998, said he was fully investigated by the authorities whether he had secret bank accounts and timber concessions.

“They could not prove that I took even a share,” he said.

Earlier, there was a tense moment between Anwar and lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in the court room.

Shafee, who represents Anifah, at the outset of his cross-examination informed Anwar that he could seek clarification if he did not understand his questions.

To this Anwar replied: “Very clear but unnecessary.”

The Permatang Pauh MP did not look at Shafee who began posing questions.

He told the court that Ishak was close to him until 1998 but had left for good reasons.

Shafee: How do you know him?

Anwar: He is from Penang, just like you (Shafee). I was a minister when he (Ishak) approached me, just like what you did.

Shafee then told Anwar that this was not the place to play the fool.

“My question is whether you know Ishak, not me,” he said.

Shafee was the ad hoc deputy public prosecutor who secured the conviction for the prosecution in the sodomy case, both in the Court of Appeal and the apex court.

However, Shafee has been criticised by the legal fraternity and former attorney-general Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman for unwarranted attacks against Anwar, even after the delivery of the apex court’s judgment.

Shafee had been asking why Anwar did not give evidence from the witness stand and did not utilise the defence of alibi to show he was not at the crime scene.

The Federal Court bench led by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria dismissed Anwar’s final appeal against his conviction for sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

The panel also upheld the five-year jail term imposed by the Court of Appeal on March 7 last year.

Anwar also told the court that Ishak, a former KFC deputy executive chairman, was a committee member, treasurer and secretary of the Permatang Pauh Umno division between 1982 and 1998.

Anwar said he had been the division chairman during that period.

He said it was malicious and nasty for Anifah to suggest that Ishak had offered RM100 million to entice him and several MPs to realise his September 16, 2008 dream for Pakatan Rakyat to capture Putrajaya.

Anifah in his testimony said Ishak had made the offer sometime in 2008 at the Hilton hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Anwar said he had not communicated with Ishak about Anifah’s allegation because the businessman had issued a statement but the minister had not responded.

“It was an absurd proposition. He (Ishak) has denied it. Period,” he added.

Judicial Commissioner Siti Khadijah S. Hassan Badjenid will deliver her ruling on June 5.

16 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?


Less than a week after Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was jailed for sodomy, his lawyers said Monday that he faces a health risk because he’s living in a bare cell with just a 2-inch-thick foam mattress on the floor, a bucket for bathing and a squat toilet.

Anwar, 67, began a five-year prison sentence last Tuesday after Malaysia’s top court turned down his final appeal, ruling there was overwhelming evidence that he had sodomized a former male aide. The case was widely seen as politically motivated to eliminate any threats to the ruling coalition, whose popularity has been eroding after more than five decades of unquestioned dominance.

The lawyers said the prison conditions were aggravating Anwar’s longtime back and spine problems, which could “pose a grave threat to his health.”

Because of his medical condition, his lawyers requested a bed with a medically suitable mattress, a chair and table, a shower and a proper toilet for Anwar. Anwar cannot bend over or stand up from sitting on the floor without pain, they said.

“His conditions must be immediately improved before there are serious consequences to his health,” the lawyers — N. Surendran, Latheefah Koya and Sivarasa Rasiah — said in a statement. “The government is fully responsible for prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim’s safety and health while he remains in custody.”

Home ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Anwar has been the most vocal and visible symbol of the opposition’s resurgence and is seen as the most potent political threat to the government.

He was accused of sodomizing a former lowly aide, then 23, in 2008. Homosexuality is a crime in Muslim-majority Malaysia punishable by up to 20 years in prison and by whipping, although prosecutions are rare.

It was the second time Anwar was jailed for sodomy in just over a decade.

He previously was imprisoned for six years after being ousted as deputy prime minister in 1998 on earlier charges of sodomizing his former family driver and abusing his power. He was freed in 2004 after the top court quashed that sodomy conviction.

Anwar led his alliance to unprecedented gains in 2008 elections and made further inroads in 2013 polls. The ruling National Front coalition won with a slimmer majority and lost the popular vote to the opposition.

15 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?

I have learned the conviction and sentencing of Anwar Ibrahim with great sadness and concern.

As a long standing friend of Anwar Ibrahim, I find the charges brought against him very difficult to believe.

Anwar Ibrahim is an intellectually oriented leading political figure in the Muslim World who has been a strong advocate of compatibility of Islamic values with democracy, rule of law and human rights.

This is why Anwar has been supported by human rights groups and several foreign governments both in the East and in the West.

As a friend of Malaysia and Malaysian people, I would like to encourage the Malaysian government to reconsider the impact of this verdict on its international standing and its commitment to human rights.


13 February 2015


Pendapat Anda?

13 FEBRUARI 2015

Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat (10 Januari 1931-13 Februari 2015)

Untuk Tuan Guru Nik Aziz, saya amat sedih dengan berita itu. Saya terharu dengan keperihatinan beliau selama ini kepada saya secara peribadi dan juga kepada keluarga. Kehilangan beliau ibarat terpadamnya satu ‘KERDIPAN/KERLIPAN’ bintang kerana dia seorang tokoh alim negara.

Kebangkitan rakyat diperlukan demi masa depan Malaysia yang terjamin daripada kezaliman, inshaAllah. Jangan titiskan air mata, terus berjuang.

Penjara Sg Buloh

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