30 August, 2008

Malaysians Think Anwar is Innocent !

The majority of people in Malaysia think allegations of sexual misconduct against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim are false, according to a poll by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research. 55 per cent of respondents share this view, while 11 per cent think the charges are true.

Polling Data

Do you believe in the allegations of sexual misconduct against Anwar Ibrahim ?

  • Believe: 11 %
  • Do not believe: 55 %
  • Not sure / No reply: 34 %

(Source: Merdeka Center for Opinion Research
Methodology: Telephone Interviews with 1,030 Malaysian voters, conducted Jul. 4 to Jul. 14, 2008. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.)

In 1999, Anwar—who served as deputy prime minister and finance minister during the Mahathir administration—was sentenced to jail on charges of sodomy and corruption. Anwar was regarded as Mahathir’s natural successor but had become a critic of the administration. Many Malaysians saw his conviction as politically-motivated.

In 2004, the Federal Court reversed Anwar’s conviction for sodomy and he was released from prison. Anwar’s wife, Azizah Ismail, formed the National Justice Party (PKN) in 1999. Anwar is now the leader of a coalition of opposition parties.

Last month, Anwar was arrested again, this time over allegations that he had "illegal sex" with a male aide. Homosexual sex is defined by Malaysian law as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." Anwar pleaded not guilty, and has been released on bail.

On Aug. 22, Anwar decried the government’s tactics, saying, "Since the 1999 general election, they have used every means, threat and dirty tactic in the book to ensure they secure the landslide victories. This time, this by-election takes the cake and the prime minister, deputy prime minister, ministers and other BN leaders have jumped on the bandwagon on a free-for-all, no-holds barred smear campaign against me."


Meanwhile, a Panel of Eminent Persons reviewing the 1988 judicial crisis found that Sacked Lord President Tun Salleh Abas was not only innocent of the charges levelled against him but was acting to uphold his constitutional duty to protect the doctrine of separation of powers.

It also concluded that the removal of Salleh and Supreme Court judges Tan Sri Wan Suleiman Pawanteh and Datuk George Seah subsequently was “non est”, that is, that they should not have been sacked.

The five-man panel comprised retired Chief Justice of India JS Verma, who chaired the panel; former Pakistan Supreme Court Justice Fakhruddin G Ebrahim; advocate of the Pakistan Supreme Court and United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Dr Asma Jahangir; senior Malaysian lawyer Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman; senior Australian lawyer and former Lawasia president Dr Gordon Hughes; and senior Malaysian lawyer Datuk Bill Davidson.

Bar Council chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, launching the Report of the Panel of Eminent Persons to Review the 1988 Judicial Crisis in Malaysia at the council auditorium, said: “It may have taken 20 years, but it is never too late for right to be done and for the truth to be told.”

In another development, The Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said The Malaysia Today news portal has no respect at all for religion even though the topic is very sensitive and the "fire of religion" could cause chaos and havoc.

Utusan Malaysia reported on Saturday that SKMM had banned Malaysia Today not for political reasons or because it was very critical of politicians such as Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, but because the website had insulted the Prophet Muhammad.

The SKMM head Mohamed Shahril Mohamed Tarmizi told Utusan that the ban against Malaysia Today was because an article in the website had tried to draw parallels of the Holy Prophet to the former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden.

Syed Hamid said countries take action when people profane religion "what more from a person (Raja Petra) who professes to be a Muslim."

"I thought personally when they (SKMM) took action - under current developments - that we were very slow to take action even though we are hurt very badly so often," he added.

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