Category Archives: Anwar Ibrahim

Malaysia’s Ms. Reformasi speaks her mind in OSLO

May 26, 2015

Phnom Penh

Malaysia’s Ms. Reformasi speaks her mind in OSLO

OSLO, May 26 — Five years ago my father, Anwar Ibrahim, delivered a speech right here on Nurul-Izzah-Anwarthis very stage entitled ‘Half A Century of One Party Rule’. He was talking about my country, Malaysia, which has been dominated by the same party for more than 50 years.

That same year here at the Oslo Freedom Forum my father spoke on the same stage as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who declared that: “When you meet Anwar, be careful.” During his visit to Malaysia, Julian was detained by secret police just hours after speaking to my father.

My father – a popular and unifying figure in my country’s history – is seen as a very dangerous man by the UMNO party regime. When he served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the 1990s, he amended the corruption act to further strengthen it – which displeased the political elites – and by September 1998 his anti-corruption campaign led to his sacking from government, arrest, his beating under custody whilst blindfolded and handcuffed, and his eventual sentence and imprisonment in trials that were condemned by rights organisations and governments worldwide.

Initially, it was announced that at least 20 charges would be brought against my father; including treachery, being an American and Israeli agent, corruption and sodomy. They did forget to throw in the kitchen sink. They jailed him for six years, much of which he spent in solitary confinement.

Anwar’s trials earned Malaysia our own International Commission of Jurists report– the very same body that observed Nelson Mandela’s flawed trial. It was entitled: Justice in Jeopardy, Malaysia 2000.

As I speak to you today, Anwar, my father, and the former Opposition Leader of Malaysia, is behind bars again on his second trumped-up charges of sodomy.

I have been told that of the nearly 200 speakers in this conference’s history, only four are in jail right now: my father, Nayeel Rajab from Bahrain, Thulani Maseko from Swaziland, Leopoldo Lopez from Venezuela. The Malaysian regime keeps some very authoritarian company.

Malaysia without AnwarSpecifically, for my father, this is his third incarceration since 1998. He is now in urgent need of medical attention. My father was also a political prisoner in his youth; when he was about my age. Thankfully, he grew more handsome over the years but no less rebellious.

The year 1998 brought the historic Asian Financial Crisis and my father’s imprisonment to Malaysia. Equally important for me, it marked my own political awakening.

As a child I wanted to be an engineer, and I would have pursued that if it wasn’t for the events of 1998. Well, I owe the Malaysian government many thanks for getting me involved in politics. Really, I do.

If my government didn’t abuse institutions – influencing the Judiciary, rigging votes, controlling the media, if they didn’t use force to shut their opponents up – my father would be free, and I might be working for Shell or any other decent oil and gas company. Or maybe not – not with oil at 60 dollars a barrel.

Well, now it is not just Anwar who is Malaysia’s most wanted. It also includes me and the whole opposition, the movement for free and fair elections (Bersih), and many others demanding for a democratic and just Malaysia.

In our last national elections in 2013, Anwar Ibrahim led the opposition to victory, winning 52 per cent of the popular vote. But he was defeated by extreme gerrymandering, malapportionment and election fraud. The ruling coalition clung to power by holding on to 60 per cent of the seats.

The Electoral Integrity Project, based in Sydney and Harvard University recently rated Malaysia as having the worst electoral-district boundaries in the world and among the worst election rules. This places Malaysia alongside countries like Zimbabwe, Angola and Egypt.

The government’s gerrymandering was compounded by the abuse of postal votes. In fact, out of 222 seats we lost almost 30 to postal votes and early votes alone! And since those flawed elections in 2013; almost 20 Members of Parliament and state legislators have been charged, arrested, and locked up, along with 150 others including lecturers, students, journalists, even cartoonist and ordinary citizens.

So now you might be thinking, “What about you, Izzah?”

Growing up, I was a prefect, and like the rest of you here – never smoked pot in my entire life. I played by the rules. I was a model example of a compliant citizen who wanted to go along and get along.

But, mind you, thanks to the corruption, oppression and sheer injustice of the Malaysian government, this girl scout is now a second term Member of Parliament – defeating two sitting Ministers along the way – thanks to my electorate who voted in favour of reforms.

In March, I was recently arrested and locked up for a speech I made on behalf of my father in Parliament.

Yes, beautiful, sunny, twin towers-clad Malaysia. But Members of Parliament have zero parliamentary immunity and can be arrested for sedition.

The whole experience of being a political prisoner in Malaysia is quite bizarre. We have a draconian 67-year-old prison rules that forbid slippers, for example, as the government claims they could be used for suicide. The colonial British laws the Malaysian government loves to preserve.

So you spend the night sleeping on the floor only to be asked questions such as:“Who is this Devil you referred to in your speech made in parliament?”

You see, I had condemned the Federal Court judges in my father’s case for having sold their souls to the Devil. I said this because Malaysia needed judicial reform. Along with electoral reform and fighting for a multiracial Malaysia – where diversity is seen as a strength, not something that divides us.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) and his wife Rosmah Mansor (R) arrive at the airport in Tokyo on May 24, 2015. Najib is on a three day visit to Japan.   AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) and his wife Rosmah Mansor (R) arrive at the airport in Tokyo on May 24, 2015. Najib is on a three day visit to Japan. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

Reformists in my country are the most wanted, and the most feared by our government. Why? Because we are the future – with a zeal for reforms.

Malaysia’s most wanted are those who clamour for an end to the unequal distribution of wealth and against corruption and extravagance of the men or women who govern over us.

Malaysia’s most wanted are those who despair that our children receive low international education rankings – at one point we were surpassed by Vietnam!

Malaysia’s most wanted are those, who reject the use of racial and religious extremism to scare indigenous Malays into voting for the status quo.

Malaysia’s most wanted are those, who realise anti-terrorism laws are often just guises to justify the detention of political dissenters in the name of ‘security and stability.’

Malaysia’s most wanted, who are sick to the bone with failed governance and mammoth financial scandals. Most recently is the controversial government investment fund, 1MDB has burdened Malaysia with a RM42 billion debt.

The Prime Minister also the Finance Minister is the chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisors. Dubious financial dealings now go hand in hand with the Malaysian government.

Shout out to Mr Tom Burgis – meet our very own Sam Pa.Malaysia’s most wanted are the young generation of Malaysia, who up to 88 per cent voted for my party in the recently concluded Permatang Pauh by-elections.

My father’s seat – which he lost upon his conviction – has been retained by our party, despite the enormous political and financial obstacles put in our way by the regime. Malaysia’s most wanted will not give up. Just last week, the Opposition Coalition chose my mother as Malaysia’s Opposition Leader. They can’t lock all of us up. The reformist might be behind bars but the reform agenda stays true.

We know that more of the world will see beyond the Petronas Twin Towers and give more attention to us, Malaysia’s most wanted, the rising dissidents and democrats who refuse to accept the current government.

So what of the future you ask? I’ll tell you. The future belongs and will be determined by Malaysia’s most wanted.

Long live reforms. Long live reformasi!And thank you Thor and the selfless team at Oslo Freedom Forum for allowing Malaysians to live in truth.

God bless you.

* The above is the text of the speech delivered by Nurul Izzah as the first speaker at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway.

– See more at:

Criminalizing Malaysia’s Opposition

May 13, 2015

Phnom Penh by The Mekong

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Criminalizing Malaysia’s Opposition

by Nurul izzah Anwar, Member of Parliament

World leaders need to tell Mr. Najib and his cronies that trade and economic considerations, including the much talked about Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, will not be placed above civil and political rights. It’s time for Malaysia’s friends around the world to stop giving our leaders a pass on sharply declining human rights and the rule of law.–Nurul izzah Anwar

Nurul IzzahKUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Last Thursday, my mother was elected the new member of Malaysia’s Parliament from Permatang Pauh, a seat that was wrested away from the opposition through the politically motivated conviction of my father, Anwar Ibrahim, a former Deputy Prime Minister and the country’s Opposition Leader. In February, the highest court in Malaysia sent him to prison for five years on trumped up charges of sodomy. He is serving his third prison sentence since 1999.

In March, I delivered a speech in Parliament focused on good governance and judicial reform on behalf of my father. The reading was deemed seditious by the government, and I was arrested and locked up overnight.

The Sedition Act, which criminalizes speech uttered “to excite disaffection” against the government, is one of this administration’s favorite cudgels. Its definition is so broad that it gives the government sweeping powers to arrest and lock up critics under the guise of punishing “sedition” or in the ostensible pursuit of maintaining public order.

In the last two years, it has been used successfully to harass or prosecute scores of people, mostly government officials, including several members of Parliament. The cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, was hit with nine charges under the Sedition Act — mostly based on tweets allegedly attacking the Judiciary over the verdict against my father. His artwork and cartoons were confiscated, and he is now out on bail.

In addition to harassing me and persecuting my father, the state has applied constant pressure on my mother, a state assemblywoman, in hopes that she will wilt both physically and psychologically. The Police have also hinted of their plans to interrogate my younger sister, Nurul Nuha, who is leading March 2 Freedom, a coalition to free my father.

We are running out of family members for officials to arrest on bogus charges. What’s most alarming is that the government’s actions are part of a much larger pattern of threats to the rule of law and human rights. In recent months, every week or so brings news of the politically motivated detention of a government critic. I am out on bail now, but my arrest is intended to silence me and to warn other would-be government critics.

The United Malays National Organization, known as UMNO, and its allies have been in power since independence in 1957. The tempo of state repression quickened two years ago after the 2013 parliamentary elections when the opposition won 51 percent of votes cast, versus 47 percent for the government.

Through gerrymandering and the creation of uneven electoral districts, the ruling coalition clung to power by holding on to 60 percent of the seats. The Electoral Integrity Project, an international organization, recently rated Malaysia as having the worst electoral-district boundaries in the world and among the worst election rules. This places Malaysia alongside countries like Zimbabwe, Angola and Egypt.

The opposition’s showing at the polls two years ago was a political near-death experience for Prime Minister Najib Razak and the ruling party. It was answered with investigations, arrests and imprisonment.

Meanwhile, UMNO, whose main constituency has historically been the ethnic Malay Muslim majority, with help from its pliant coalition partners, has cynically raised the mercury on issues related to race, religion and the Malaysian royal family, so as to keep the mult-ethnic opposition coalition on the defensive.

Religious freedom in a country with sizable Christian, Buddhist and Hindu minorities is now endangered as public figures vying for popular support among Muslims have supported the persecution of religious minorities. Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the population, have been a prime target.

Last month, for example, in one high-profile incident, demonstrators in Petaling Jaya demanded that Christians remove a cross from the exterior of their church — and the cross was removed. And in 2013, Ibrahim Ali, a leader of Perkasa, a Malay supremacist organization, allegedly publicly endorsed the burning of Bibles.

Instead of focusing on dissenters, government officials should be doing their jobs. For one thing, Malaysia’s economy needs revamping. A sizable portion of the working population in a young country of 30 million citizens still remains eligible for welfare cash handouts. We are too reliant on natural resources. The gap between the rich and poor has been growing and is now among the widest in the region. Our education system remains weak and incoherently structured, creating an unemployable class with poor career prospects.

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition that my party is a part of aims to focus on structural reforms in key economic policies with the goal of creating a clean and more effective government. Reducing inequality and the cost of living, providing affordable housing, good governance and a serious fight against corruption are our priorities.

Malaysia’s answer to extremism has been economic opportunity. Now that this deal is faltering, and now that the borders are porous — more than 1,000 refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh landed on our shores on Monday — there is a risk that extremism could find a home here.

It’s encouraging that Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s former long-time Prime Minister, has recently become Prime Minister Najib’s fiercest critic, attacking him as corrupt and incompetent.

But we need louder voices to condemn what’s happening here. World leaders need to tell Mr. Najib and his cronies that trade and economic considerations, including the much talked about Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, will not be placed above civil and political rights. It’s time for Malaysia’s friends around the world to stop giving our leaders a pass on sharply declining human rights and the rule of law.

Fortifying Authoritarian Rule in Malaysia

May 3, 2015

Phnom Penh by The Mekong

Fortifying Authoritarian Rule in Malaysia

by Amanda Whiting

Najib Vs MahathirWeak Prime Minister and the Original Autocrat

The current session of the Lower House (Dewan Rakyat) of the bicameral Parliament of Malaysia has just adjourned until mid-May. During that session, international attention focused mainly on two issues, both of which entailed tension within, and possibly the collapse of  the Pakatan Rakyat (“PR”) Opposition alliance: the fate of jailed Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, now serving his second sentence for “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”; and the possibility (now postponed) that the federal Parliament, at the insistence of PAS, the Islamic opposition party and PR component, would legislate to permit hudud punishments (including amputation, stoning and crucifixion).

Renewed Eftorts to entrench Authoritarian Rule by a Weak Leader

Less attention was given at the time to the passage through the Dewan Rakyat of laws that clearly demonstrate renewed efforts to entrench authoritarian rule in Malaysia, although that is now changing. When placed alongside the authorities’ palpable disregard for existing legal protections for citizens who engage in democratic criticism and dissent, as we see in the crackdown on Malaysians who express dissatisfaction with Anwar’s conviction, it now seems that Malaysia is experiencing not just a return to rule by authoritarian laws, after a brief but perhaps illusory respite, but also rule by authoritarian lawlessness.

Three and a half years ago, to widespread amazement and acclaim, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (PM Najib) announced his government’s intention to put Malaysia more firmly on the path to democracy and respect for human rights. He proposed to do this by ending the legal fiction that Malaysia was in a state of emergency, and repealing the draconian laws that had caused Malaysia to feature so often at the lower end of international human rights rankings. To that end, amongst other legislative measures, from September 2011 to the middle of 2012 his government did the following. It repealed the Internal Security Act (“ISA”), which had permitted detention without trial and had often been used against legitimate political opponents rather than suspected terrorists, and replaced it with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (“SOSMA”), a law that substituted preventive detention with a shortened period of investigative detention followed by either a criminal trial or release of the suspect, and specifically provided that no one could be arrested solely for political belief or activity. The government liberalised print media laws by removing the requirement for annual renewal of newspaper licences that had contributed so much to self-censorship, and by restoring the power of the courts to review government decisions to revoke or suspend printing and publication licences. And it replaced the section of the Police Act that mandated police permission (rarely granted to government critics) for public gatherings with a Peaceful Assembly Act (“PAA”) that purported to recognise and regulate the constitutional right to freedom of assembly. There was also some relaxation of the laws prohibiting student politics.

In July 2012 PM Najib also promised to repeal the Sedition Act – feared by Opposition politicians, journalists, social activists and progressive lawyers because of its nebulous definition of “seditious tendency” and the government’s well-documented proclivity to use it to silence unwelcome criticism – with a more benign sounding “National Harmony Act”.

1MalaysiaMalaysian’s initial enthusiasm for PM Najib’s reforms soon turned to disappointment and then shock and condemnation. The more hard-line Malay-supremacists within his own United Malays National Organisation (“UMNO”), and the assorted ethno-nationalist and Islamist vigilante groups that hover on the fringes of the party, lamented the loss of the ISA and openly speculated that without preventive detention and the Sedition Act, there would be no way to preserve the sanctity of Islamic institutions, the supremacy of the Malay Rulers and the sovereignty of the Malay race (the concept of Ketuanan Melayu). On the other hand, progressive and democratic voices in the Opposition PR coalition, civil society, journalists, academia, and the Malaysian Bar, protested loudly and clearly that the law reforms were a fraud: SOSMA replaced detention without trial with procedures that ensured detention without an adequate trial; the PAA placed more restrictions on public gatherings than the law it replaced; liberalisation of the media laws barely scratched the surface of the problem of direct and indirect government interference with the press; what little was revealed about the proposed National Harmony Act suggested it would be simply a rebranded Sedition Act; and the UMNO-led government apparently had no intention of removing other repressive laws such as the Official Secrets Act and the Societies Act, nor – perhaps most importantly of all – of cleaning up the deeply flawed electoral system that has ensured its own repeated return to power since independence from Britain in 1957.

Debased and Discredited Electoral System

That debased and discredited electoral system delivered another UMNO victory in the May 2013 general elections, with the opposition winning the popular vote (50.9-47.4%) but UMNO and its Barisan National (“BN”) coalition partners retaining control of the Parliament (133-89 seats). In the aftermath of the bitterly contested election, Najib’s ostensible agenda of democratic transformation was trounced by embattled UMNO warlords fearful of losing power in the next election cycle and needing to shore up electoral support by appealing to their ethnic power base in terms of UMNO’s historic mission to rescue Malays from the threat of immigrants, infidels and other outsiders.

Elsewhere I have explained how in the aftermath of the 2013 election UMNO revived and strengthened criminal provisions in the Penal Code and the Prevention of Crime Act (“PCA”) to prime them for use against political opponents and socio-political activists and critics, under cover of combatting both ordinary crime and local and international terrorism. Crucially, the 2013 amendments to the PCA reintroduced preventive detention.

The Bill for a Prevention of Terrorism Act (“POTA”) that has received approval in the Dewan Rakyat on 7 April also permits 2 year periods of preventive detention, and, like the old ISA and the amended PCA, ousts the jurisdiction of the courts to review detention decisions except on narrow procedural grounds. Given the authorities’ well-documented track record (chronicled in the annual reports of domestic and international human rights bodies) of using criminal and anti-subversion laws against critics who are not by any sensible definition either “criminal” or “terrorist”, the combined effect of these legal changes is ominous for democracy. The new criminal-anti-terrorism regime is complex and convoluted and requires separate treatment. This comment will confine itself to consideration of the Bill to amend and extend the Sedition Act.

Amanda Whiting is a legal historian at Asian Law Centre, The University of Melbourne. She is writing a history of the Malaysian legal profession, and a separate but related history of sedition in Malaysia. This article is part one of a three part piece analysing the Bill to reform the Sedition Act. Part 2 and Part 3 are available HERE and HERE.  

Permatang Pauh By-Election: Not a PKR Lily Please

April 22, 2015

Permatang Pauh By-Election: Not a PKR Lily Please

by Terence

COMMENT: Tomorrow PKR announces its candidate for the Permatang Pauh by-election. Nominations are for Saturday and polling is on May 7.

wan azizah 1If, as many expect, the choice is Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the party will have indicated that they are like UMNO – dependent on a reflex rather than an original proposition anytime.

Wan Azizah ought to be what she is qualified to be: a figurehead President of the party, placed there by reason of the travesties visited upon her husband by the powers-that-be.That placement is expedient: her aura of suffering is emblematic of the long drawn out travails of Anwar Ibrahim who, being out of public sight, needs someone in a lofty enough position in the party to reflect his privations in the public gaze.

But to employ Wan Azizah in a role that mistakes her aura for something more substantive would be self-deception, the way UMNO is condemned to permanent experience of the malady.

Presently, the country’s dominant political party is in the throes of choosing between the advice of the person singularly responsible for its woes and the nation’s and the assurance that all’s well that seems well from a man who is himself an product of the system well laid for it by his fiercest critic.

That not enough people in the party care to reflect on this mordant irony shows the depth of the hypnosis exerted on UMNO by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

After finding three Deputy Prime Ministers he essentially chose defective and two Prime Ministers that he actually selected dismally disappointing, his advice on prescriptive measures is being volunteered and may eventually be listened to.The fact that it is advice that must be taken to save the country from the Najib Abdul Razak-Rosmah Mansor imperium does not make it any less ironic.

After being a stand-in MP for three-terms for her disqualified-by-incarceration husband, and after having being supplanted in that role when Anwar was free of his legal trammels, Wan Azizah may yet again be deployed as a stand-in candidate for her spouse’s traditional seat.

Worse may well be in store. If she is successful in the by-election, the DAP may well consort with the rump of PKR that supports her to make her the stand-in Opposition Leader, in place of her gaoled husband, if only to keep PAS away from that role and also PKR Deputy President Azmin Ali from it.

If this article has reiterated the husband-and-wife relationship rather cloyingly, it is only to draw attention to the fact that PKR had set its face from birth in 1999 against not just the corruption and cronyism of UMNO-BN, but also its nepotism.

Unable to come up with another candidate? After 16 years of its existence, the party, if it fields Wan Azizah again in Permatang Pauh, would indicate that it is unable to come up with another candidate more suitable to stand-in for Anwar.

The party has such candidates but if it reflexively goes looking for one from within the Anwar family, it will be like its compatriots in Pakatan Rakyat, the DAP, who are as keen in establishing dynastic legacies around the families of Lim Kit Siang and the late Karpal Singh Deo.

Anwar IbrahimIf the PKR fields Wan Azizah, the party would be tone deaf to precisely what their iconic leader (above) has often warned them against: underestimating the intelligence of the masses, a quotation from Spanish thinker Ortega Y Gasset that Anwar often cites in his speeches.

It is in underrating the intelligence of the Malay voters in Permatang Pauh the last time they were asked for their opinion – in May 2013 – that Anwar incurred a 4,000-plus vote drop in his plurality.

He had slipped from a 15,000-plus vote majority in the by-election of August 2008 to an 11,000-plus majority in the general election of May 2013, losing in nearly all the Malay precincts in the state ward of Penanti, within the parliamentary one of Permatang Pauh.

This drop was incurred in an election where the tide of public sentiment ran strongly in favor of Pakatan Rakyat. One cause of the decline in the majority was the fielding of Dr Norlela Ariffin, an apology for a candidate. No use in reiterating who was responsible for the choice of Norlela.

The party has had to endure much mortification in choosing Norlela. Earlier this month, she had to be compelled by the PKR state leadership to call off a seminar she planned to organise on hudud for Muslim converts and had to be cautioned against publicly iterating her support for the PAS measure.

This argument against fielding Wan Azizah in Permatang Pauh could go on, but one finds no pleasure in shredding a lily.

Malaysia’s Creeping Authoritarianism – Wall Street Journal

The government arrests Nurul Izzah Anwar, the daughter of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his daugther Nurul Izzah in 2012. ENLARGE
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his daugther Nurul Izzah in 2012.

Malaysian politics are moving down a dark path. A month after the country’s highest court upheld the conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on trumped-up charges of sodomy, police on Monday arrested Mr. Anwar’s daughter for violating the Sedition Act, a colonial-era law increasingly used to chill political debate.

Nurul Izzah Anwar’s apparent offense was to criticize the judiciary last week in Parliament, where she is opposition vice president. In addition to reading a statement from her father condemning his trial as a political conspiracy, Ms. Nurul Izzah condemned Malaysia’s Federal Court for “bowing to political masters” and being “partners in a crime that contributed to the death of a free judiciary.”

Western diplomats have also criticized her father’s prosecution. “The decision to prosecute Mr. Anwar, and his trial, have raised serious concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the courts,” the U.S. State Department said last month.

Mr. Anwar was convicted on similar sodomy charges in 1999, only to have the conviction overturned after six years in prison. This time his accuser met with senior government officials—including Prime Minister Najib Razak, then the deputy prime minister—days before the alleged incident, but judges blocked Mr. Anwar’s lawyers from questioning those involved.

Mr. Anwar is 67, so a five-year prison sentence and additional five-year ban from politics could end his career. His multireligious coalition won 53% of the popular vote in 2013 but never took power from the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which has controlled Malaysia during its nearly six decades since independence.

The persecution of the Anwar family is a further blot on UMNO’s reputation. Mr. Najib promised to repeal the Sedition Act in 2012 but has since used it against more than a dozen opposition politicians, academics and even cartoonists such as Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, known as Zunar. In November he proposed strengthening the law with new provisions “to protect the sanctity of Islam and other religions.”

Creeping authoritarianism won’t slow UMNO’s rising unpopularity among young people, urbanites and ethnic minorities. Nor will it help Malaysia’s ties with the U.S., which are important for combating terrorism; Malaysian police arrested 19 Islamic State supporters plotting attacks around Kuala Lumpur last year. Nurul Izzah Anwar and Anwar Ibrahim should be released for their own sake and that of a democracy sliding into repression.

Obama Urges Prime Minister Najib to apply the Rule of Law apolitically

March 13, 2015

Obama Urges Prime Minister Najib to apply the Rule of Law apolitically


Barack Obama

The White House today expressed its disappointment over Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s guilty conviction for sodomy, and urged Putrajaya to apply the rule of law to promote confidence in the country’s democracy, judiciary and economy.

In a statement following the close of a petition launched by former US Ambassador to Malaysia John Malott to press for Anwar’s freedom, the Obama administration said the worry was compounded by the Malaysian government’s intention to expand the sedition law against critics, despite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promise to repeal it.

The statement said the US had made its concerns on Anwar’s conviction clear through statements and interactions with Putrajaya and would continue to do so.

“The initial decision to prosecute Mr. Anwar, the decision to appeal the not guilty verdict, and the overturning of that verdict raise a number of serious concerns about the rule of law and the fairness of the judicial system in Malaysia,” the White House statement said.

It added that the two countries were committed to work together on the economy and security challenges, but said Washington would continue to urge Malaysia to apply the rule of law fairly, transparently and apolitically.

“History has shown that countries that uphold the human rights of all their citizens, regardless of their political affiliation, ethnicity, race, religion, or sexual orientation, are ultimately more prosperous and more stable, the White House said.

The petition for Anwar’s freedom achieved 113,122 signatures, more than the 100,000 required to qualify a response from the Obama administration.

The Federal Court on February 10 upheld Anwar’s sodomy conviction and his five-year jail sentence.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy said yesterday more than 60,000 signatures were removed from a counter-petition to the White House on Anwar because they originated from disposal email services.

From more than 70,000 signatures initially, the petition that took issue with the Washington’s stand on Anwar’s conviction was reinstated online with around 12,000 signatures.

“The White House did remove 60,789 signatures deemed to be fraudulent because a vast majority of those signatures originated from

“Other fraudulent signatures originated from trashmail, sharklasers, and mallinator – all disposable email services. Those fraudulent signatures occurred over the life of the petition,” the embassy added.

The counter petition was started nearly a month ago after the petition in support of Anwar’s freedom was launched.

It said Malaysians were “outraged” with the White House’s statement expressingJohn R. Malott2 disappointment with Anwar’s jailing, and told the US to “stop interfering in Malaysia’s judiciary and rule of law”.

Malott’s petition, “Make the release of Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim from prison a top priority for US policy towards Malaysia”, was also temporarily removed after standard fraud checks by the White House erroneously identified it as a petition with fraudulent signatures.

The embassy clarified on Wednesday that it was not the free Anwar petition but the counter petition which had fraudulent signatures.

The counter petition, titled “Respecting the Sovereign Nation of Malaysia”, reached 12,612 signatures as of this morning.



Khairy Jamaluddin, Sports and Sodomy 2 Roadshow

February 23, 2015

Khairy Jamaluddin, Sports and Sodomy 2 Roadshow

by Mariam

Khairy Jamaluddin, the UMNO Baru Youth Chief, is smarter than we credit him. The fiercely ambitious Oxford graduate is taking the initiative, showing UMNO Baru that he can lead.
Khairy Jamaluddin

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is facing his worst nightmare. His spectre is a Malaysian in an Australian detention centre. Khairy needs to prove that he will be ‘prime minister material’ if the top post becomes vacant.

Khairy is showing signs of being bored with his day job as Youth and Sports Minister. After Malaysia’s dismal performance in the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, Khairy’s focus should be on promoting and improving our performance in sport. He should engage more young Malaysians.

The Ambitious Shafee Abdullah

Proving that he has too much time on his hands, the Minister has instead organised a roadshow. His co-star is the lead prosecutor in the Sodomy 2 trial, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.  They are trying to convince the public that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s guilty verdict was a just one.

There is probably an ulterior motive to the roadshow. Shafee has his sights set on being the next Attorney-General, whilst Khairy is taking pole position in the race to be the Prime Minister.

To most UMNO Baru members, Khairy shows promise and this will probably upset Najib’s cousin Hishammuddin Hussein, whom many consider to be another potential Malaysian Prime Minister.

Hishammuddin’s credentials? He spoke English better than any of the government officials who gave press conferences for MH370. His popularity received a boost after photos of him were circulated, sitting in a cramped economy-class seat en route to a meeting in Australia.

Nevertheless, Khairy has other endearing qualities. He has political pedigree by virtue of his father-in-law, former PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Khairy’s English is heavily accented, unlike most of his peers. He was educated in Singapore (United  World College South East Asia) and England (Oxford), and spent his childhood globe-trotting as the son of a diplomat.


Appearance counts – Khairy wears bespoke suits, because he knows that to look good is half the battle, especially when impressing his design-conscious supporters. Most important of all, Khairy is a “real man”. The reservist in the Territorial Army  (above) underwent commando style training, and has obtained his parachute wings. When some tudung-clad Malay girls were hugged on stage by K-Pop performers, Khairy was dismissive and tweeted, “…I hope Malaysian girls return to tall, dark and handsome men and not pale, skinny and pretty men. Those are not real men.”

To his credit, Khairy did not ask the girls to be investigated, unlike some of his party members.

Has Khairy done enough?

At UMNO Baru’s last General Assembly in November, Khairy proved his racist credentials with his outburst against non-Malays, warning them not to question Malay rights. Despite his image of a tough guy, Khairy has a sensitive side to him. The traditional practice is for the UMNO Baru Youth leader to be given a ministerial role, but in 2009, Najib snubbed him. Dejected, Khairy hinted to reporters that he might go on study leave and not stand for election in GE13. Pigs can fly!

So, has Khairy – the Youth and Sports Minister – done enough to upgrade sporting facilities in schools, universities and public areas? How has he promoted a more healthy and productive lifestyle in our youth?

Has his ministry successfully discovered and nurtured young, sporting talents? Current stars like world squash champion Nicol David will eventually retire, and Lee Chong Wei is embroiled in alleged abuse of drugs. These – and other ageing stars – will soon have to be replaced. They do not have the qualities of Peter Pan, like some who are still members of ‘UMNO Baru Youth’ although middle-aged.

Does Khairy possess the political will to clean up doping and corruption in sports, especially in football? We need new faces and an injection of fresh, creative ideas to promote sports. Is Khairy afraid of getting rid of the deadwood amongst sports officials?

When will he persuade his party that racism in sports is bad? Before racism crept into the sports arena, there were sporting heroes from all the communities. Competition is healthy, and racism should also be avoided when selecting sporting officials.

Najib’s future is looking bleak and his problems are not caused only by his fiscal measures, his 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the goods and services tax (GST), or the Sodomy II fallout.

Perhaps, this roadshow is to make Khairy stand out from the crowd and prove his worth. Both Najib and Khairy know that in the dog-eat-dog world of UMNO Baru, there are enemies around them and it is difficult to distinguish friend from foe. Najib is aware that his adversaries are circling him, like hyenas waiting for the kill. The stakes are high. No one can be trusted and people are watching their backs.

Is Khairy trying to justify Anwar’s conviction or is he trying to promote himself?