Anwar demands an end to sodomy investigation
Opposition Pakatan Rakyat Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is demanding the Government quash sodomy accusations against him, saying he was the victim of a “conspiracy” to prevent him from seizing power. Anwar, a former Deputy Premier who spent six years in prison on sodomy and corruption counts before a stunning return to politics in March general election, said he is still on track to form a Government with the help of defectors. “This Government is under siege,” he said, adding he was targeted because of “the close possibility of me taking over” and his plans to re-enter Parliament through a by-election, which had now been delayed. “I will advise them to drop the charges because they are frivolous and malicious. I will fight every inch; I will fight them and fight them hard. This is a second round of dirty games,” he told a press conference. Anwar laid into the Government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a day after emerging from the Turkish Embassy where he fled over the weekend saying his life was in danger. He filed a complaint against the Inspector General of Police Chief and Attorney-General (see separate story), and planned a public rally for Tuesday night as well as a national roadshow to attack the allegations. Anwar said he expected that evidence would be fabricated to back the charges, leveled by a 23-year-old aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azian who had been a volunteer in his office for several months. “I have all the evidence and an alibi. This is a conspiracy,” he said, adding that his wife Datin Sen Wan Azizah Wan Ismail would meet with Abdullah to push for an end to the accusations which are being probed by the Police. Police are investigating the former Deputy Premier for sodomising a 23-year-old aide, the same charge that landed him in jail for six years before the Federal Court overturned that conviction in 2004. Sodomy is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison in Malaysia. Anwar said he planned to file a legal deposition soon demonstrating that his accuser, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, has close ties with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his staff. Najib, widely viewed as the heir apparent to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi and Anwar’s chief rival for power, has repeatedly denied having anything to do with the case. Anwar vowed at the news conference “to fight every inch of the way” against the sodomy allegation, which surfaced as the revitalised Opposition under Anwar was trying to engineer Parliamentary defections aimed at bringing down Abdullah’s Government. The loose Opposition alliance made his4ric gains in a March 8 general election, winning five of 13 State Governments and con4ng within 30 Seats of taking control of the 22-member Parliament. Abdullah’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) helms the Barisan Nasional Coalition that has ruled the country since the former British colony won independence after World War II. Pakatan Rakyat comprising PKR, DAP and the Islamic PAS made a surprisingly strong showing in March, grabbing one- third of the seats in Parliament and undermining the Coalition’s longtime hold on power in this nation of 25 million, with control of five States. Anwar was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister in 1998 in the midst of the Asian financial crisis which heightened his power struggle with then rime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Shortly after, he was charged with sodomy and corruption, and appeared in court with a black eye after a beating from the then Police Chief. As part of his current fight back, Anwar filed a complaint Tuesday (see separate story) over that beating a decade ago, accompanied by 50 supporters who scuffled with police. Anwar spent six years in jail until the Nation’s highest court overturned the sex conviction. He emerged in poor health and spent several years recuperating and working as an academic. Analysts say the new allegations could actually help Anwar, by galvanising support for the charismatic ‘figure whose colourful political career has nevertheless been tinged by scandal. “A large number of people do not believe the allegations, and this whole episode may have benefited Anwar more than it has damaged his reputation,” said Ibrahim Suffian, a pollster from the Merdeka Centre. Winning a seat in Parliament would be the first step on the road to Anwar’s larger ambition of leading the Opposition to power for the first time in Malaysian history. The United States said Monday it would oppose any politically motivated investigation or prosecution of Anwar and that it hoped there was no “pattern” in the new accusations against him. “The main point for us is that the rule of law needs to stand above politics,” said US State Department spokesman Tom Casey. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hit out at the comments. “This has never been politically motivated at all, never crossed our minds. Washington had better get their facts rights,” he said. AFP, Reuters.