Prison or not, Anwar already has won.

February 6, 2015

Prison or not, Anwar already has won.

by John R.

COMMENT: February 10 is V-day – Verdict Day. That’s when we willAmbassador Malott learn whether Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim will be found guilty in a trial that governments and human rights organisations around the world unanimously have called politically motivated.

No legal basis for Anwar’s guilt

Judged solely on legal grounds, there is no doubt that the prosecution hShafee and Gopal Sri Ramas failed to prove its case. In the Federal Court hearings which spread over two weeks, Anwar’s Defence team, led brilliantly by a former judge, Gopal Sri Ram, made mince meat of the government’s prosecutor, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is better known as UMNO’s lawyer.

Anyone who looks at the facts of the case would conclude this: If Anwar is found guilty, it will be for political, not legal, reasons.

Malaysia has changed forever

But if Anwar is found guilty, he can go to prison with his head held high. He can look back and think about all that he has been accomplished since he was first arrested by then Premier Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, and how Malaysia’s political situation has changed over the past 16 years.

Anwar Ibrahim, Wan Azizah
Even as the UMNO government pursued and persecuted him, Anwar never gave up. Neither did his supporters. And now the movement he began, and the challenge to Malaysia’s political order that he and his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail started in 1998, have become much larger than Anwar himself. There is no going back. Malaysia has changed forever.

Anwar put country above self

Anwar had many opportunities over the past decade to travel overseas. But he always went back to Malaysia, despite the risk. If Anwar were selfish – if it were just about him – he could have stayed overseas and gone into exile.

Mahathir and his wardsMahathir actually gave him that choice in 1998, yet Anwar turned him down and ended up spending six years in prison. That is one reason why I respect him so much. Anwar always chose to go back. He chose his country Malaysia over any risk to himself. I wonder how many other people would do that.

UMNO a minority government

Anwar can think about the fact that in the last general elections, the opposition defeated – yes, defeated – UMNO and its coalition partners in the popular vote.

UMNO was saved only because of the inequitable distribution of electoral seats by the Election Commission, which as everyone knows is controlled by the UMNO government.

Even with one hand tied behind its back, Anwar and the Opposition won 53% of the vote in Peninsular Malaysia. It defeated BN at the polls. As for UMNO’s own candidates, they took only 33 percent of the national vote.

Malaysia now has ‘two-party’ system

Anwar can think about the fact that in the past 16 years, a genuine opposition and ‘two-party’ system have emerged. The difference between UMNO-BN and Pakatan Rakyat is now very clear.

One side, BN is dominated by UMNO, which increasingly tries to survive by appealing to the basest and most racist instincts of its members. It survives by the use of Sedition Act, control of the media, and threatening to arrest anyone who dares to speak out.

UMNO has castrated the other parties in the coalition, MCA and MIC, to the point where they are politically meaningless. There really is no BN anymore.

UMNO – even though it was the recipient of only 33% of the national vote – now calls 100% of the shots. MCA and MIC have lost their supporters and are struggling for their own survival.

Chinese Malaysians have shifted

During the struggle in 1998, the Chinese Malaysian community stood on the sidelines. They considered it an internal UMNO struggle among the Malays. They thought of Anwar as a “ultra Malay.”

But not today. The Chinese-Malaysian community has shifted theirNajib as 1MDB advisor support to the opposition, to the point where Najib complained of a Chinese tsunami after the last elections.

No longer just about Anwar

Over the past 15 years, the movement that began with Anwar’s sacking, arrest, and imprisonment has grown into Pakatan. It is now a permanent fixture in Malaysia’s political landscape and a genuine alternative to BN.

Fifteen years ago, KeADILan basically was about Anwar and the injustice that had been done to him. But no longer.

Today it is about democracy, freedom, human rights, and Malaysia’s future. It is about an end to corruption and cronyism. It is about Malaysia’s future. So whether he goes to prison or not, Anwar already has won.

JOHN R MALOTT is former US Ambassador to Malaysia.


12 thoughts on “Prison or not, Anwar already has won.

  1. The opposition has had many thrusts to help it emerge, Anwar contribution is no less, But just like any good engine it needs good body and wheels and a common destination, They have no one common philospohy to bind them we call them clear shared values like care, fair go . It must simple and binding. They have also recently been fighting and many many prime ministerial candidates at the back seeking opportunities and do not forget key question Hudud which is DAP no, PAS Yes(resoundingly) and PKR unsure. Bad for Malaysia Bad for Business, Yes there is a opposition and two party, but where from here no body knows.

  2. Malott,
    If Anwar were shot dead just like what happened to Benigno Aquino, it would be far better. Plus it satisfies everybody including certain haters and distractors including my ahem ahem matey, ktemoc.
    What Malaysia need is one Hunter Thompson. Too bad Hisham Rais can’t really fill his shoe

    Not sure you would want to read his book

    Hisham Rais may recommend this

    To CLF who may not have cojones to challenge ktemoc,

    Yes, I can be eccentric but like what quoted in the film where the buffalo roams

    “I hate to advocate drugs or liquor, violence, insanity to anyone. But in my case it’s worked”.

    Yes, some PAS folks may not be happy but Dr Ismail did drink from time to time. And it’s in the hansard

  3. Times have changed. A lot has happened in the past few months with more to happen in the coming few. Propping up sodomy against Anwar is like propping up a noodle. He shall walk free come Tuesday.

  4. Well said John Mallot. Hope Obama understand what you have just said. Thanks a million John for being forthright.

  5. ” Prison or not, Anwar already has won….” , the way HE Ambassador John R. Malott has put it , it indicates a precognition, like as if its a Portent….yes with clasping hands , let’s dedicate this ODE TO DUTY by William Wordsworth to him who deserves :

    ‘ Stern Daughter of the Voice of God !
    O Duty ! if that name thou love
    Who are a light to guide , a rod
    To check the erring , and reprove ;
    Thou who art victory and law
    When empty terrors overawe : !
    From vain temptations dost set free,
    And calm at the weary strife of frail humanity !

    To humbler functions , awful Power !
    I call thee : I myself commend
    Unto thy guidance from the hour ;
    Oh let my weakness have an end !
    Give unto me , made lowly wise ,
    The spirit of self-sacrifice ;
    The confidence of reason give ;
    And in the light of truth thy Bondman let me live. ”

    ( A Poem of Dedication….)

  6. The only reason why Najib Razak and BN is still in power is because of the use of state apparatus and assets to hang on to their position of power…. and that include using the state’s coffer to fund some campaigns and programs to win votes…. the fact that they only obtained 47% of the popular votes, despite all the advantages and the abuses, is a tell tale sign the end is near.

    BN will be ousted from power – with or without the participation of PAS – in the next GE. The feeling on the ground against the BN government is way too strong to hold back the force anymore – BN will fall….

    Many will disagree – as many has also disagreed with me in 2008 at the Dewan Sri Pinang in Penang on the night of Dec 8, 2008 when I said in jest “somebody better go get a long-sleeve batek for Guan Eng on standby” when they started the vote counting…. I can feel BN tumbling down the next round nationwide….

  7. this writer is talking rubbish. I think I know anwar much better bcos I was one of his officers in the treasury. yes he was given d option to leave but upon d instigation of his advisers n supporters who thought that they were strong enough 2 take on d Mahathir’s camp head on, things went badly 4 them n him. d rest as they say is history.

    a lot of his supporters realised that they were duped bcos anwar hid a lot of his weaknesses from them. very2 few r stil wth him 2day. very soon he wil b remembered only when people relate him 2 d stories of d ‘arabian

    d coliation that he managed 2 put together wil soon disintegrate. this is only natural n bound 2 happen when u put a horse; a zebra ; and a donkey in one stable. they wil b kicking each other when d stable hand is not looking.

    after all this nonsense is over , d biggest winner wil definitely b peace n tranquillity.

  8. Narayan, fully agree.
    The present tension between PAS (ulama faction) and DAP is symptomatic of the much larger – and for Malaysia ineluctable, I would even say existential – question of the primacy, or not, of our civil constitution over Islamic Sharia.

    This is not an easy one, anywhere in the world, since faith/ummah/sharia are one and not to be unbundled and Sharia has no intention of playing second fiddle to any other law. It goes right to the question of whether faith is a private matter or if its precepts are to be imposed in the public space. We see a few green shoots here and there – Indonesia (ex-Aceh), Tunisia (? – or are those Islamists just biding their time?) – but generally the outlook is not promising. Non-Muslims wish Muslims would hurry up and have their reformation, preferably without further wholesale carnage, but there it is: in their hands, not ours.

    In Malaysia opposition progress depends I think on a formal split within PAS, between its ulama and “erdogan” factions (though I notice that appellation less used since its namesake started teargassing his subjects, jailing jounos by the dozen, building Ozymandias-sized palaces, fulminating against Turkish stewardesses using lipstick, etc.). Unless a progressive PAS joins hands with DAP, the opposition will disintegrate.

  9. “Unless a progressive PAS joins hands with DAP, the opposition will disintegrate.”

    There is no progressive PAS. Just as there is no secular DAP.

    The issue is whether the UMNO collaborators and sleeper cells within PAS can be curtailed.

  10. This now the Thaipusam season. For the Hindus the ‘Thaipusam Vel’ ( spear shaped metal ornament) which is pierced through the cheek of those who carry a certain type of ‘Kavadi’ is an important part of the whole meaning of Thaipusam. This ‘Vel’ symbolises the need for all of us to have knowledge in the shape of the ‘Vel’. The tip of the Vel is sharp. That means the Man must always have a sharp mind. The body of the Vel is wide. That means our knowledge of any given subject should be broad. And finally, the stem of the ‘Vel’ is long and pointed. That means our knowledge of any given subject should be deep. These principles of knowledge as symbolised by the’ Thaipusam Vel’ is what is going to take this nation to next level . I hope that all Malaysians will, in the quest for knowledge, be guided by this ‘Vel’ in whatever we do in the name of the state.

  11. “… if it were just about [Anwar] – he could have stayed overseas and gone into exile..”

    Whilst I agree M’sian politics has reached a degree of ‘maturity’ (& there is no turning back), much that have gone on in recent years is EXACTLY about Anwar. If he is really so selfless, he would have conducted cleaner politics, and leave behind all the antics associated with BN on his departure from UMNO. I feel his aim is about him wanting the PM’s seat and does not care how he achieves this, even at the expenses of using the rakyat as battle fodder. He could have introduced clean, totally honest & transparent politics into M’sia for which he could then rightly gained himself the title of the M’sian Mandela.

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