16 July, 2008

A very sad day, a repeat of 1998.

Armed police in balaclavas seized Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today and roughly bundled him into a car, an hour before the time he said he would surrender to an arrest warrant.

The surprise move, two weeks after one of Anwar's 23-year-old male aides levelled accusations of sodomy against the former prime minister, is bound to stoke political tensions in Malaysia.

He was returning to Kuala Lumpur from Malaysia's administrative capital of Putrajaya when his car was stopped near his home after about a dozen police had closed off the street.

The opposition leader, whose charisma has stitched together a disparate opposition, was pulled from his car into a police vehicle, though he was handcuffed.

His wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, received a call on her mobile phone from him after his arrest and, along with other supporters, arrived at the police station shortly after he did.

"I feel apprehensive because my husband … is not that well," she said. "He has a bad back, he's had surgery. And [during our] brief conversation he said they were not gentle."

Ten years after her husband was detained for sodomy, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail feels a sense of déjà vu over the latest arrest of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

"I have a fear because, although they guarantee his safety, it was the same thing that they said before but it didn’t happen."

She also expressed regret over the way Anwar's arrest was handled by the police on Wednesday. "It now has political connotations," she said.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was arrested this afternoon, has called on his supporters to remain calm and not to react to any provocation, which could lead to a state of Emergency being declared.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali who read out a statement at a press conference at the party's headquarters here this afternoon said Anwar's message was conveyed through his lawyers Sankara Nair and R. Sivarasa.

He said that he had received phone calls from PKR division leaders and party members who wanted serious actions to be taken.

The arrest came an hour before Anwar was scheduled to show up at the police station to be interviewed by officers investigating a sodomy allegation against him. On June 28, his former aide, Saiful Bukhary Azlan, alleged that Anwar sodomised him in an apartment in Damansara.

Anwar is likely to be charged with going against the order of nature today or tomorrow. He will be out on bail after that and will attempt to punch holes in the prosecution's case even before it reaches the court.

Gombak MP, Azmin Ali, stirred up a hornet's nest on the second last day of this Parliamentary sitting when he brought up the issue of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's arrest earlier this afternoon.

Azmin said he had just got back into the Dewan Rakyat from the city police headquarters where Anwar was arrested for sodomy, the second such accusation in his political career.

He told the House how Anwar had been accosted by 15 balaclava-clad police personnel on the roadside leading to Anwar's home in Bukit Segambut as the charismatic PKR leader was returning from the ACA headquarters in Putrajaya where he had given evidence on his claims that the AG and IGP fabricated evidence in relation to the 1998 "black eye" assault.

Expanding at length on the brutal, commando-like methods of the police in carrying out the arrest, Azmin likened the situation to what happened back in 1998.

"The same methods were used at 12.30pm today," he cried.

"Why? Are the police being manipulated by Barisan Nasional and Umno? "This is an abuse of due process."

An incensed Azmin immediately stood up and issued a warning and a challenge to the Barisan Nasional. "Don't test the people's patience," he said fiercely. He continued by saying that the same script, same pattern, same fitnah, same players - from Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and IGP, Tan Sri Musa Hassan - were being used.

Next, he challenged the government to reveal who issued the order for Anwar's arrest.

"What is Syed Hamid Albar, the Home Minister's, stand? Who gave the order? Is it the IGP," he spat out.

"I request action be taken against the IGP. The cruelty that was taken will damn the country's security system.

"We do not believe Anwar is in police hands," he added, and reminded the chamber of the previous IGP Tan Sri Rahim Noor's promise 10 years ago that Anwar would be kept safe and sound while in remand, only to pop up with a black eye after that.

Addressing the deputy speaker directly, Azmin urged him to take action.

"Don't listen to the son-in-law, don't listen to the IGP. Please use the powers at your service to address this issue," he concluded, to loud table thumping from his fellow Pakatan Rakyat MPs.

Jerlun MP, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, then sprang up to rebut Azmin's charges. However, his words only served to add more fuel to the highly-charged issue at hand.

"The question I want to know, as a representative of the people, the people of Jerlun: Did Datuk Seri Anwar commit sodomy or didn't he?

"I believe Datuk Seri Anwar did. Certainly he did commit this 'keji' act," he said, causing the entire Opposition flank to break into an uproar beyond the control of the deputy speaker.

The house only settled down after the Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia stepped back inside and even then, after a fiery exchange of words with Dr Lo' Lo' Ghazali, the PAS MP for Titiwan

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Blogger Crankshaft said...

It's not just the citizens who are angry, even their elected representatives have caught the mood.

July 17, 2008 8:49 AM  

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