Second Anwar sodomy case ‘flimsier’, WSJ says
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 — In urging President Barack Obama to take a stand in democracy in the Muslim world, The Wall Street Journal today called Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s second sodomy case “flimsier” than the first.
In its editorial piece, the US daily said Malaysian democracy could benefit from a sign that the US is not indifferent to Anwar’s legal ordeal or to the political system that has allowed it to continue. US interests could benefit as well, it said.
“The current case is even flimsier than the last one. It is based mainly on the word of one accuser who, as it so happened, had met with then-deputy prime minister, now Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak days before the alleged incident.
“Doctors at two hospitals could find no evidence of rape in the aftermath of the alleged incident. Nonetheless, political observers anticipate a guilty verdict,” WSJ said today.
The verdict of Anwar’s trial will be delivered on Monday with a potential sentence involving years of jail time on sodomy charges.
If found guilty, Anwar could spend up to 20 years behind bars but will escape the caning penalty as he is over 60. It would effectively spell the end of his political career and his chance to be prime minister.
The former deputy prime minister first went through “this charade” in the late 1990s, when he fell out with then-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the Asian financial crisis, was “savagely beaten” by police and ultimately sentenced to prison on sodomy and corruption charges.
Anwar (picture) spent six years in prison before the sodomy charges were overturned by the country’s highest court in 2004, a year after Dr Mahathir had left office.
He was again served with sodomy charges four years later after Umno lost its two-thirds majority in a general election and the opposition seemed close to assembling a parliamentary majority.
“This is happening in the context of growing discontent among Malaysians with Umno’s ruling order, and Mr. Najib’s ambivalent attempts at political reform. But if that’s reminiscent of the unhappiness that presaged the Arab Spring, so too is the don’t-rock-the-boat attitude of the Obama Administration,” WSJ said today.
The paper pointed out that Malaysia is supposedly a moderate Muslim country and a useful regional counterweight to China.
“Failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people will only feed the suspicion that has festered for years that the United States pursues our own interests at their expense,” WSJ quoted Obama as saying, in May.
“Mr. Anwar’s case gives the President a chance to show that he meant what he said,” WSJ said today.