Laman Orang Kampong

Fall of a Malaysian Hero
The Anwar Ibrahim saga will forever be a blot on the nation's history

Unproven vile accusations by Mahathir and unsubstantiated affidavits filed by police officers were used to attack and humiliate him in a ferocious assault orchestrated by the government controlled mass media. However the attempt to demonize him failed miserably. A yawning chasm of public disbelief and his harsh treatment resulted in a ground swell of sympathy for this charismatic leader.

It is difficult to keep a good man down and Anwar Ibrahim did not take this lying down. Ever the spirited fighter, he went on a nationwide road show to explain his cause, drawing large crowds wherever he went. People turned out by the thousands to hear him speak, his oratory was legendary. He explained his innocence, he called for Mahathir to resign and for reformation of the corruption, cronyism and nepotism ingrained in UMNO.

Dragged to a kangaroo court

The infamous black eye

The Malay term "Reformasi!" was to become the battle cry of a restless people hungry for change but until now lacking an effective leader.  His public appearances culminated in a massive show of support by a crowd estimated at 60,000 on Sept 20 at Independence Square in Kuala Lumpur making it was the biggest demonstration in 30 years. Shocked by the public support for Anwar and viewing him as too dangerous to be free, he was arrested the same night.

When he was produced in court 10 days later, shock waves reverberated around the world. The ex-Deputy PM had been violently assaulted in prison, denied medical attention for days and sported a prominent black eye. It was to be a black eye for Malaysia on the international stage as world condemnation followed. Mahathir did not improve matters when he obliquely suggested that the injuries could have been self-inflicted. But who could have dared assault a person of his stature and popularity? An internal investigation by the police failed to identify the culprit and ended with the hollow conclusion that the police were responsible for his injuries which was obvious to everybody in the first place.

The Attorney-General had also sat on the report for months and tried to ameliorate the seriousness of his injuries. The Chief of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor resigned to "take responsibility" and the government expected this to be the end of the matter. But the public outcry locally and internationally would not abate and Mahathir was forced to appoint a Royal Commission of Inquiry. The culprit was speedily identified as none other than the Police Chief himself and the Commission stated that the assault was so violent that it could have been fatal. Rahim Noor was charged with causing grievous hurt, released without surety and his trial postponed for a year. Nobody expects him to be given a heavy sentence and he is likely to get away with a minor wrist slap.

With the barrage of accusations and character assassination against Anwar and with his previous high office, what would the Attorney-General Mokhtar Abdullah charge him with? Would it be corruption involving billions of ringgit, high treason, murder or some other really serious offence?  But when the charges were released, Malaysians were surprised by their paucity and poverty. Besides four vague charges of the moral crime of sodomy which the Attorney-General had no confidence to try him yet, there were four charges of "corruption". In a highly corruption tolerant environment when well-connected individuals have stolen billions and walked free, when a politician accused of statutory rape was let off without being charged, when an established prima facie case of corruption against a Minister was ignored, Anwar Ibrahim was dragged to court for four counts of non-monetary technical corruption which challenged the definition of an offense. Specifically he was charged with instructing the police to clear his name from vile slanderers who had circulated poison pen letters accusing him of sexual indiscretion and sodomy. The fact that Anwar as DPM and Finance Minister had no statutory power to order the police to do his bidding (the Police Dept. comes under the Home Minister which was held by Mahathir then) and so could not have corruptly used his non-existent power to order the police was not appreciated by the court. And so the circus of a show trial began with the intense attention of the world's media focussed on the unfolding drama.


Next Page

Page 3 of 7