Anwar Appeal Loss–Serious Setback for Malaysian Opposition


December 19, 2016

Anwar Appeal Loss–Serious Setback for Malaysian Opposition

Anwar Ibrahim’s December 14 failure of the final appeal to overturn his sodomy conviction and a five-year jail term is regarded by critics as little more than a subterfuge to keep him in prison for at least another 16 months and blocking him from competing in the next general election, which must be held by the middle of 2018.

Malaysia’s opposition believe the next polls are their best chance to unseat Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is mired in a huge financial scandal involving the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. and an unaccounted US$1 billion found in his personal bank account. The US Justice Department in July detailed the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund, which is believed to have lost RM50 billion through theft and mismanagement.

The last time Anwar emerged from prison on what human rights organizations called trumped-up charges of sodomy and corruption was in 2004. He immediately galvanized the opposition, which made dramatic gains against the ruling Barisan Nasional in 2008 elections and won a majority of votes in 2013, although gerrymandering and the first-past-the-post electoral system kept them in opposition.

Hun Sen and Mahathir

The ruling is thus a blow to Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat and a nascent coalition that includes his old boss Mahathir Mohamad. The coalition is showing unexpected strength, particularly in Johor, the home base of ousted former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, analysts say. Mahathir’s new Parti Pribumi Bersatu was formed after the former prime minister was also driven from the United Malays National Organization.

Bersatu, as the party is known, is also showing strength in Kedah, where Mahathir’s son Mukhriz was chief minister until engineered his ouster earlier this year, and in the East Malaysia state of Sabah, the home of Shafie Apdal, who was fired from the cabinet after he questioned where Najib got US$681 million that was deposited in his personal account in 2013.

Rafizi-Ramli

With Anwar in prison and the party’s secretary general, Rafizi Ramli, threatened with prison over violation of the Official Secrets Act, the opposition is mostly in disarray. The rural-based Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS, last year split into two camps.  Nonetheless, a political analyst said, if an election is called soon, the scandal could cost an additional 10 or two seats – not enough to dislodge the Barisan, but enough to cost considerable pain.

“You can never underestimate the power of the kampong people,” a source said. “People are suffering. Things are expensive. People live on one meal a day. They are losing jobs. Mamak restaurants – the lowest denominator in the food chain – are closing down. Forget about the glut in high end property. Forget about the glut in commercial space. If interest rates keep rising – as they will with Trump’s proposed spending spree and rising yields of US dollar debt – interest rates here will go up and the property market will collapse. Finally – and I don’t say it with glee – Malaysians are having a real issue filling their stomachs. All the ingredients point towards a Malaysian spring.”

The Barisan has survived a long string of similar predictions of disaster, however, and it is likely to do so again, given its electoral organization and the money to buy votes. With the opposition also in disarray, it is neither a healthy or pretty picture.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the ruling against Anwar, calling it politically motivated and involving trumped up charges in trials that were plagued by fundamental problems in procedure and evidence.

“The Federal Court’s decision which maintains the conviction of Anwar Ibrahim is a real tragedy for justice in Malaysia,” said Phil Robertson, the Southeast Asia deputy director of Human Rights Watch. “More than anything, this outcome shows that the Malaysian courts were no match for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s political vendetta against Anwar.

“With this final decision running roughshod over Anwar’s rights and sending him back to prison, Najib and the ruling UMNO party have just fired the starting gun on the expected 2018 election by permanently sidelining the political opposition’s most capable leader,” he said.

Some 400 of Anwar’s supporters gathered outside the cordoned-off Palace of Justice to get news of the ruling but were unsurprised and unfazed when they heard the apex court had rejected the opposition leader’s appeal.

“It is our time we make it matter. We’ll make sure the kleptocrat can never sleep at night,” Anwar’s eldest daughter, the lawmaker Nurul Izzah Anwar, said after she came out of the court building in the country’s administrative capital Putrajaya.

Her kleptocrat comment referred to the United States Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which referred to a figure called Malaysian Official 1 who allegedly facilitated the 1MDB scandal that saw the state fund go in some US$11 billion in debt.  The US Department of Justice complaint said some of the money was found in the accounts of Malaysian Official 1, whom a minister had confirmed was Najib.

Unanimous ruling

Amnesty International issued a statement naming Anwar a “prisoner of conscience” and said the ruling “raises concerns about the Malaysian judiciary’s independence from political insurance.” The human rights organization said Anwar was “jailed solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and he must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

Nonetheless, the five-man bench ruled unanimously. In its 62-page decision, the Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said it was a review of Federal Court’s decision and the appellant had raised the issue of miscarriage of justice.

Zulkefli raised the point that Article 128 of the Federal Constitution does not provide the Federal Court to review its decision, thus dismissing Anwar’s application to set aside his sodomy conviction and five-year sentence for sodomizing his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

The other three judges present in court were Justice Hasan Lah, Justice Abu Samah Nordin and Justice Zaharah Ibrahim, while the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Justice Richard Malanjum, was absent as he had to attend a funeral.

On January 9, 2012, the High Court acquitted and discharged Anwar of the sodomy charge on the grounds that the court could not be 100 percent certain on the integrity of samples taken for DNA testing from the alleged victim. The court had ruled that the samples could have been compromised before they reached the Chemistry Department for analysis.

On January 9, 2012, the High Court acquitted and discharged Anwar of the sodomy charge on the grounds that the court could not be 100 percent certain on the integrity of samples taken for DNA testing from the alleged victim. The court had ruled that the samples could have been compromised before they reached the Chemistry Department for analysis.

However, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court judgment and found Anwar guilty of sodomizing Saiful and held that the trial judge had erred in his findings about the samples which were based on the evidence of two expert witnesses called by the defense.

The Federal Court said it upheld the conviction and the sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal after taking into consideration the seriousness of the offence and Anwar having allegedly taken advantage of his position as the employer of a young victim.

9 thoughts on “Anwar Appeal Loss–Serious Setback for Malaysian Opposition

  1. Actually its superficial to say it. Anwar as a viable opposition leader also depend on coopting PAS under Nik Aziz. Hadi’s PAS is a different animal and its not clear that Anwar can do much about it. However, the new Anwar-Mahathir alliance pose a more credible non-theocratic Malay front but its not clear, if Anwar was free the alliance would happen. I believe Mahathir agree to the alliance only because Anwar is in jail.

    Fact of the matter the main problem of the opposition is Hadi’s PAS holds the trump card and Anwar-Mahathir-Amanah has to come up with the answer failing Islamic politics. If their answer is to attack Najib’s and his corruption and avoid Hadi’s PAS, they are committing the same sin that the oppositon have committed all these decades about UMNO’s political strategy. Yes they are political racketeer and on its own would fall apart but the fact is there is much they can still feed from and tools they can use. Even a Anwar-Mahathir-Amanah front will not beat the racketeers, not while Hadi’s PAS is a dysfunctionality.

    Fact is for big arching opposition viable stragegy is to form a true united front of PKR-PPBM-DAP-Amanah and make sure they last longer than UMNO-PAS. When resource or luck runs out for the UMNO-Hadi’s PAS front, then the masses will be ready for them.

  2. Just like many people who ask Clinton. Likewise, one idiot from aussie land ask Anwar loving folk to move on regardless how much more barking done by another doggie in Aussie land

  3. The only short term viable strategy for PH is to attack UMNO-PAS alliance. Najib and Hadi’s PAS is trying to do a very difficult dance. Najib need Hadi’s PAS to keep fighting PH BUT they are afraid to make PAS too strong or Hadi’s PAS will work with those in UMNO aligned to them to unseat him. Hadi’s PAS also cannot be seen to be working with UMNO so its really a very tight-rope that Najib walks.

    Hence the key really keep attacking the UMNO-Hadi’s PAS. If Hadi’s PAS has a bad deal with UMNO, its easier for PH to get Hadi’s PAS to turn back on UMNO.

  4. The panel of Judges, (below), that “…upheld the conviction and the sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal after taking into consideration the seriousness of the offence and Anwar having……taken advantage of his position as the employer of a young victim”

    Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin:

    15.7.1976 – 30.10.1976 – Appointed as Deputy Public Prosecutor, Attorney-General Chambers, Kuala Lumpur.
    1.11.1976 – 31.12.1978 – Appointed as Deputy Public Prosecutor, Department of Customs & Excise, Kuala Lumpur.
    1.1.1979 – 15.6.1982 – Appointed as Federal Counsel, Department of Income Tax, Kuala Lumpur.
    16.6.1982 – 30.9.1982 – Appointed as Legal Adviser, Ministry of Trade & Industry, Kuala Lumpur.
    1.10.1982 – 31.9.1983 – Master of Law at University of London.
    15.10.1983 – 31.10.1984 – Appointed as Legal Adviser, Ministry of Housing & Local Government, Kuala Lumpur.
    1.11.1984 – 31.5.1985 – Appointed as Senior Federal Counsel, Department of Income Tax, Kuala Lumpur.
    1.6.1985 – 31.12.1987 – Senior Federal Counsel, Sarawak, Kuching.
    1.1.1988 – 15.2.1992 – Appointed as State Legal Adviser, Johor.
    16.2.1992 – 30.11.1992 – Appointed as State Legal Adviser, Selangor.
    1.12.1992 – 31.10.1994 – Appointed as Chairman of the Advisory Board, Prime Minister Department.
    1.11.1994 – 11.1.1996 – Appointed as Judicial Commissioner, High Court of Malaya.
    12.1.1996 – 16.6.2005 – Elevated to be High Court Judge, High Court of Malaya.
    17.6.2005 – 4.9.2007 – Elevated to be Court of Appeal Judge, Court of Appeal, Malaysia.
    5.9.2007 till todate – Elevated to be Federal Court Judge, Federal Court of Malaysia

    Justice Hassan Lah:

    a) Magistrate, Magistrates Court, Sg. Petani/Kangar (1977);
    b) Senior Assistant Registrar, High Court Kota Bharu (1980);
    c) Senior Assistant Parliamentary Draftsman, Attorney General’s Chambers, Kuala Lumpur (1984);
    d) Registrar of High Court of Malaya (1989);
    e) State Legal Adviser of Kedah (1991);
    f) Judge of Sessions Court of Ipoh (1955)

    Justice Abu Samah Nordin:

    The Honorable Tan Sri began his career in Law as the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Malaysian National Bureau of Investigation in Kuala Lumpur. Subsequently in 1979, Y.A. Dato’ was appointed as the Senior Assistant Registrar, the High Court of Kuantan, Pahang. Soon after in 1982, Y.A Dato’ was appointed the Senior Federal Counsel at the Ministry of Housing and Local Council, Kuala Lumpur.

    Between the years 1982 to 1983, the Honorable Tan Sri was on study leave to attend to the LL.M Course at the University College of London for 12 months and upon his return, Y.A. Dato’ was appointed as Deputy Registrar of Companies at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Kuala Lumpur. He was then promoted to the position of Legal Officer and in 1985 the State Legal Advisor for Negeri Sembilan.

    In 1989, the Honorable Tan Sri was appointed as Senior Federal Counsel at the Ministry of Home Affairs and then was appointed the Senior Federal Counsel for the International Advisory Division at the Attorney General’s Chambers. From 1990 to 1992, Y.A. Dato’ served as Senior Federal Counsel for the Anti Corruption Agency and the as Senior Federal Counsel for the Inland Revenue Board, Kuala Lumpur. In 1994 Y.A. Dato’ was then appointed to the position of Judicial Commissioner at the High Court of Malaya, Commercial Division, Kuala Lumpur. In 1994 also, Y.A. Dato’ was elevated to the position of the High Court Judge of Malaya, Commercial Division.

    From 1997 to 2007, the Honorable Tan Sri Wira Abu Samah served as the High Court Judgeof Malaya, Kuantan; the High Court Judge of Malaya in Shah Alam dan the High Court Judge of Malaya Criminal Division 1 in Kuala Lumpur. On the 17th of July 2007, Y.A. Dato’ was elevated to the position of the Court of Appeal Malaysia.

    Justice Zaharah Ibrahim:

    i) Legal Officer(attachment), High Court, Kuala Lumpur
    25/04/1977

    (ii) Magistrate, Magistrate’s Courts, Melaka 01/05/1977

    (iii) Senior Assistant Parliamentary Draftsman, Attorney General’s Chambers 01/01/1981

    (iv) Director, Intellectual Property Division, cum Registrar of Patents and Registrar of Trademarks, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs 16/02/1992

    (v) Deputy Parliamentary Draftsman (National Language Section), Drafting Division, Attorney General’s Chambers
    16/07/1992
    (vi) State Legal Adviser, State of Selangor 01/04/1994

    (vii) Deputy Parliamentary Draftsman I, Drafting Division, Attorney General’s Chambers
    16/05/1996
    (viii) Parliamentary Draftsman, Attorney General’s Chambers 01/08/1996

    (ix) Judicial Commissioner, High Court in Malaya at Kuala Lumpur (Civil Division) 01/08/2004

    (x) Judicial Commissioner, High Court in Malaya at Shah Alam (Criminal Division) 01/10/2004

    (xi) Judge, High Court in Malaya at Shah Alam (Criminal Division) 28/07/2006

    (xii) Judge, High Court in Malaya at Kuala Lumpur (Commercial Division) 01/01/2009

    (xiii) Judge, Court of Appeal 14/4/2010

    (xiii) Judge, Federal Court of Malaysia 16/2/2015

    Justice Richard Malanjum:

    Upon graduation with the law degree, his Lordship was appointed as an Administrative Officer with the Chief Minister’s Department, Sabah but was assigned the duties as a Deputy Public Prosecutor with the State Attorney General’s Chambers, Sabah. He was also a part-time lecturer in law at the MARA Institute of Technology (Sabah Campus). After working for a while to help finance his further study, his Lordship proceeded to London in April 1976 and successfully completed his Bar-at-Law study in the same year. Thereafter he was called to the English Bar of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn, London. In November 1977, his Lordship was admitted as an Advocate to the Sabah Bar and to the Australian Capitol Territory (ACT) Bar in 1991. On his return from London, his Lordship resumed his service with the State Attorney General’s Chamber as a Deputy Public Prosecutor and as a State Counsel.

    In August 1981, his Lordship ventured into private legal practice in Kota Kinabalu and had a very successful practice until his Lordship’s appointment as a Judicial Commissioner in March 1992.

    I rest my case……

  5. The resumes are lengthy but most of the experience are in the legal instead of judiciary service. It will be better if we can have a list of cases that were heard before these judges and their decisions. That will better reflect the learnings and leanings of these judges.

  6. Do not be overwhelmed by lawyers with University degrees! The quality of legal acumen and the ability of Counsel is only discovered by his/her arguments advanced in the Supreme Court before Judges of independence and repute. So ask yourselves this question: how many Malaysian Judges and in particular among those named have practised in the Supreme Court of England and Wales? Even if they had tried would they have succeeded at the English Bar? Q.E.D.

    [posted by a practisiing Barrister (now retired) with legal qualifications from an English University and one of the Inns of Court who has had some forty years at the English Bar]

  7. In case you all have not noticed, out of the 5 judges, 4 were from the government legal, judicial services, and even the one not from the services had actually started from the government services. In other words, all 4 were lifelong former government servants. They had never known working life outside of government service.

  8. With such credentials do you expect them to be impartial? They all owed a debt of gratitude to the government. And with Jibby waving the “chota” do you think they could think and act rationally?

    All said and done, the fact remains that this is Bolehland where everything is “boleh” provided the fee is right.

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