Malaysiakini’s Steven Gan interviews Dr Munawar Anees (November 21, 2006)

posted by Din Merican (October 30, 2008)

Munawar Anees’ mission to clear his name

Steven Gan | November 21, 2006


exclusive The withdrawal of sodomy charges against Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja has given hope to another man who was caught in the 1998 purge against the then deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

“Sukma’s discharge vindicates Anwar and all others falsely implicated in a plethora of concocted cases that failed the test of evidence as much as that of common sense,” said Dr Munawar A Anees, who was Anwar’s speech writer and close confidant.

Anees has vowed that he would not let up in his bid to clear his name.

He told malaysiakini in an email interview that he was back in Malaysia in April this year when several of his appeals were heard.

It was the first time he set foot in the country since leaving Malaysia in January 1999 after serving his jail sentence.

“The overwhelming feeling was that of the fear of being falsely implicated in yet some other conspiracy, but as the days went by, I felt comfortable,” he said of his return.

He left a week later after his brief court hearing, and he said nothing was heard about his case since then.

Arrested under ISA

Anees, 58, was among the three men who were charged in court for having sexual relations with Anwar – the other two were ex-deputy premier’s adopted brother Sukma and fashion designer Mior Abdul Razak Yahya, who sewed and embroidered some of the clothes worn by Anwar’s wife.

Anees was detained under the Internal Security Act – which allows detention without trial – on Sept 14, 1998, two weeks after Anwar was sacked from his deputy prime minister’s post by the then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

According to Anees, he was kidnapped, tortured and forced by the police to make a false confession of “allowing himself to be sodomised” by Anwar and subsequently spent four months in prison.

Armed with the ‘confessions’ of the three men, the police arrested Anwar on Sept 20, 1998 and later charged him on several counts of corruption and sodomy.

Two weeks ago, the Sessions Court freed Sukma for sodomy after the charge was withdrawn.

This followed an order by a higher court – the Court of Appeal – for a retrial after it found Sukma’s guilty plea for letting Anwar to sodomise him as “manifestly unsafe” because of suppression of evidence which could have proven his innocence.

In the email interview, Anees said Sukma’s case carried more meaning for him as they were sentenced on the same day and shared the same handcuff as they were sent “like dragged animals” to Kajang prison.

Both men later argued that their confessions implicating Anwar were signed under duress and that their plea of guilt was not made voluntarily.

Nazri slammed

Anees was also particularly piqued by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz who on the day after Sukma was freed told Parliament that there was no legislation which requires the government to apologise whenever a charge is dropped.

If that was the case, Anees pointed out, there was also no legislation sanctioning the treatment he received from the police following his arrest eight years ago.

“I was searched and seized, disallowed to make phone calls, handcuffed, blindfolded, stripped naked, driven in an animal cage, shaven bald, endlessly interrogated, humiliated, drugged, deprived of sleep, physically abused, threatened, blackmailed, tormented by police tout acting as lawyers, brutalised to make a totally false confession, hospitalised for a consequent heart ailment, and treated as a psychiatric patient with symptoms of Stockholm syndrome.”

Anees had written extensively about the five days when he was held incommunicado by the police in a chilling statutory declaration.

“They stripped me of all self-respect; they degraded me and broke down my will and resistance; they threatened me and my family; they frightened me; they brainwashed me to the extent that I ended up in court on Sept 19, 1998 a shivering shell of a man willing to do anything to stop the destruction of my being,” he wrote.

The 55-page document, which was penned while he was in prison, was later presented in court as part of his appeal against the six-month jail sentence meted out to him after he ‘confessed’ of letting Anwar to sodomise him.

Anees, a Pakistani-American writer, who is a biologist by training and an internationally well-respected Islamic intellectual, has over the past four years been working as a consultant for the United States-based John Templeton Foundation.

The ex-ISA detainee, who is widely regarded as a leading progressive social and scientific voice in the Islamic world, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Now based in Los Angeles, Anees has authoured half a dozen of books, including Islam and Biological Futures: Ethics, Gender, and Technology – published in 1990 – which discussed the problems of surrogate motherhood, abortion, and genetic engineering.

In the three-part interview with malaysiakini, Anees spoke at length on, among others, his reunion with Anwar and his views regarding the war against terrorism.

Q&A: Sukma’s discharge vindicates all of us

Tomorrow: My reunion with Anwar

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