PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was back in court on Tuesday (Oct 28) in a final appeal to overturn a sodomy conviction. Mr Anwar had questioned the impartiality of the justice system after he was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly sodomizing his former aide.
With former federal court judge Gopal Sri Ram leading his team of 13 lawyers, Mr Anwar was a picture of confidence. “I am confident based on facts and the law,” he said.
In court, Mr Anwar’s lawyers went all out to attack the credibility of his former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan. His lead counsel wanted the court to examine a photo of Saiful allegedly looking normal, a day after he was said to be forcefully sodomised.
But lead prosecutor Shafee Abdullah was unfazed, as he defended Saiful. “Saiful is very credible. The acquittal in the High Court was on a different reason – technical reason, nothing to do with Saiful’s credibility. Court of Appeal similarly found Saiful very credible.”
Outside the federal court, the police have set up barricades to stop Mr Anwar’s supporters from entering the compound. Security was tight and only selected media were allowed into the courtroom.
No doubt, Malaysians in general are tired of Mr Anwar’s court battles. They want an end to the sodomy saga that has dragged on for 16 years. Some political analysts said the imprisonment of the opposition leader may fire up momentum and drive more Malaysians, especially the younger generation, to protest on the streets.
“Do not think that we will not go out on the streets. If Anwar is jailed, there will be many more Anwars rising up. I can assure you there will be a Reformasi 2.0 movement,” said a man.
Quietly, Mr Anwar’s allies believe that the opposition alliance will benefit if he is put behind bars. Lim Kit Siang, Chairman of Democratic Action Party, said: “That will be a cure to the political fatigue and the cause for re-energization for political change in the country.”
But equally praying for justice were supporters of Saiful, who had since married and fathered a son. “Some believe in Anwar, we believe in Saiful, you can choose anyone,” said a supporter.
While the country awaits the final chapter of Mr Anwar’s sodomy saga, Malaysia’s judiciary is once again under the international spotlight.