06 August, 2008

Anwar 'to be charged'

Malaysia's de facto opposition leader is expected to be formally charged in court with sodomising a male aide, lawyers for Anwar Ibrahim have said

Authorities served Anwar notice to appear in a Kuala Lumpur court on Thursday morning to face the charge, police and officials from his Keadilan (Justice) party said.

After receiving the order on Wednesday Anwar said he holds Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Malaysian prime minister, personally responsible for the move, accusing him of trying to staging "a sham trial" to deflect public attention from national problems.

The news came as Anwar prepared to contest in a by-election for a parliamentary seat vacated last week by his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also Keadilan president.

Hours earlier the Election Commission fixed August 26 for the by-election in Permatang Pauh in the northern state of Penang, where Anwar was MP before his sacking from office on charges of corruption and sodomy in 1998.

Malaysia's Bar Council has questioned the police investigation into the charges of sodomy made against former deouty prime minister Anwar Ibrahim by his former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Terming reports about Azlan's medical examination as 'troubling', Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan asked whether he was interviewed by the police before it registered his complaint against Ibrahim.

'Reports that the examination, done a few hours before Saiful lodged a police report against Anwar, showed no evidence that Saiful had been sodomised by anyone has raised serious questions,' the Indian origin lawyer said Tuesday.

Sreenevasan raised the following questions:

* Was the doctor who examined Azlan interviewed by the police and was he detained for any length of time?

* Is the doctor facing any form of intimidation, and if so, from whom?

* Did the medical report by another doctor confirm or contradict the first medical report?

* If the medical report is true, showing a lack of prima facie evidence, what is the justification for the vigorous actions taken against Ibrahim as well as the public call by the authorities for his DNA sample?

'The answers are important as they bring into focus the integrity of Malaysian law enforcement,' she was quoted as saying by The Sun newspaper.


Anwar Ibrahim Press Statement

6 AUGUST 2008, PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA

This morning the Malaysian Election Commission announced nomination and polling day for the by-election that I will contest in Permatang Pauh. I look forward to the campaign period to meet with voters in my home constituency. I invite all Malaysians to join me in this historic campaign to bring forth a New Dawn for Malaysia as we work together to build a more peaceful and prosperous nation.

At the same time we would reiterate our longstanding concerns about the integrity of the electoral process. To this date, the evidence of phantom voters and ballot box stuffing has yet to be addressed by the Election Commission. The poor handling of the use of indelible ink in the General Elections gives all Malaysians, particularly those in Permatang Pauh, reason to be concerned about the conduct of polling this month. I urge the Election Commission to take this opportunity to restore some credibility to its reputation by fulfilling its constitutional mandate to ensure that voting is fair and unbiased.

On a darker note, I regret to say that I fear an enormous injustice is about to be perpetrated upon the Malaysian people, worse than those actions taken in 1988 and 1998 which rendered almost irreparable harm against the institutions of democracy and the rule of law. While some individuals suffered greatly by those actions, the Malaysian people have been the greatest losers.

Tomorrow I will be charged with a crime I did not commit. The real criminals will, in their efforts to humiliate me and to derail the people’s aspirations for transformational change in Malaysia, hide behind a smokescreen created by the government controlled mainstream media.

This travesty of justice will take place. It will happen with the active support and the criminal involvement of the highest echelons of the police and politicians—including the office of the Prime Minister.

We have been informed that the Attorney General’s chambers has advised against charging me after having studying the investigation papers. Despite its views, some individuals within the Police have insisted on pursuing this case even though the legal professionals in the AG’s Chambers take a different view.

The evidence proves that the accuser lied in his initial report. He has been seen to be working in close collaboration with the police, notably his meeting with SAC2 Rodwan who was working hand in hand with Musa Hassan to conspire against me in 1998. Other witnesses in this matter have been threatened and harassed in order to fabricate evidence. Doctors appear to have been pressured to violate all norms of medical ethics. Senior Ministers, in their comments about the case, have demonstrated their consistent interference in the investigation.

We are also informed that some individuals within the Prime Minister’s close circles are adamant about pursuing this case. Their involvement further undermines the credibility of the case and proves that the entire conspiracy hatched against me is politically motivated.

Today the Prime Minister faces a crisis of confidence. His approval ratings have plummeted since the March elections and senior members of the Barisan Nasional have joined Pakatan Rakyat in droves. The economy under his abysmal management has reached its lowest ebb in decades and all signs point to further weakening. And just yesterday prominent UMNO members have initiated an investigation into his own involvement in corruption and money politics. This is a man under siege – and he sees no way out but to deflect the attention of the Malaysian people with a sham trial against me.

He is now burning the forest to save his own tree!

I have thus far constrained my criticism of the Prime Minister to his failed policies and general incompetence in leading the nation. But now it is clear that his vendetta against those who would seek his early dismissal from office knows no boundaries and will transgress all limits of the rule of law.

I hold the Prime Minister personally responsible for the damage that is about to be done to the nation and to the integrity and dignity of the Malays.

Our international standing, recently lambasted by prominent leaders from around the world, will plummet even further. Overseas investors are already deeply skeptical about Malaysia on account of its reputation for deeply engrained corruption and economic inefficiency. They will certainly be further dissuaded from any further activity in Malaysia. The continued decline in the economy will lead to greater unemployment and rampant stagflation.

I will fight this with the hope and energy of the people who have supported reformasi in Malaysia. I will not allow this cowardly attack to derail Pakatan Rakyat’s agenda for change. Insha’Allah we will win in Permatang Pauh. Insha’Allah we will win convincingly. I look forward to joining my colleagues in the Parliament to prepare for the historic transition that the country is eagerly awaiting.

Anwar Ibrahim





Malaysian court on Wednesday rejected a Muslim woman's appeal to convert back to Christianity, the latest case to test the limits of religious freedom in the country.

"Malaysian court rejects woman's bid to leave Islam"

The Court of Appeal threw out Noorashikin Lim Abdullah's bid to renounce Islam on technical grounds — that she used her original Chinese name in her suit, her lawyer Edmond Bon said.

The court said the appellant was not legally recognized because her Chinese name — Lim Yoke Khoon — no longer existed following her conversion to Islam in 1994, Bon told The Associated Press.

Lim married a Muslim man in 1994, converted to Islam and obtained a new identity card with her Muslim name. But she divorced three years later and wants to convert back to Christianity, Bon said.

In 2003, she applied to change her name and religion on her identity card but the National Registration Department told her to she must get permission from the Islamic Shariah Court to renounce Islam, Bon said.

Lim turned to the high court seeking a declaration that she was no longer a Muslim but the court ruled in 2006 that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case, Bon said.

Meanwhile, California health officials have issued a warning about a brand of candy from Malaysia, saying it contains lead levels the state considers unsafe.

"Calif. officials warn against Malaysian candy"

The Department of Public Health says a recent analysis found that Ego Hao Jin Bang candy contained as much as 0.73 parts per million of lead.

The state considers candy with lead levels of more than 0.10 parts per million to be contaminated.

Lead can be particularly harmful for young children and developing fetuses, resulting in learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.

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