18 August, 2008

PM backs Anwar accuser after mosque 'stunt'

Malaysia's premier has backed the young man accusing opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of sodomy, after the man visited a mosque to swear to his claims in an act criticised as a political stunt.

Anwar has said the allegations made by Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 23-year-old former aide, have been engineered by the government to prevent him from seizing power after landmark March elections.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hit out at criticism of Mohamad Saiful after he was photographed last week at a city mosque, swearing on the Koran that he was telling the truth.

"According to Islam, an individual seeking justice should be respected, even though it may be a personal issue," the premier said

"There are those who question his method and whether he is following the right procedure but in his heart he must have a clear intention," Abdullah said.

"The incident must have been traumatic, otherwise he would not have lodged the police report."

Anwar was accused of sodomy in court this month, but the charge indicated the alleged sex act was consensual. Although under the law Mohamad Saiful would appear to be equally culpable, the government has said he will not be charged.

Mohamad Saiful said last Friday that the alleged sex act was not consensual, and that it "happened by force, without my permission."

He denied that his visit to the mosque, the day before Anwar formally registered for a by-election expected to return him to parliament after a decade-long absence, was aimed at undermining the opposition leader.

"It is just by coincidence that I made the oath today. God gave me the strength to do it," he said.

Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid on Monday came out in support of Anwar, saying he was innocent of the sodomy charges and that he hoped he would one day lead the nation.

"I think (the allegations) are wrong because I know Anwar and I believe totally in him," he told a press conference.

He also slammed Mohamad Saiful's action of swearing on the Koran as "unIslamic" and said that if he wanted to clear his name, he should go to the Sharia court as Anwar has already done.

Wahid, a liberal Islamic scholar, headed Indonesia's largest Muslim association, Nahdlatul Ulama, for 15 years before taking up the presidency from 1999 to 2001.

Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the spiritual leader of the conservative Islamic party PAS, which is a member of Anwar's opposition alliance, has also said Saiful's move to swear on the Koran was not in keeping with Islamic teachings.

"It is normal for Christians to swear on the Holy Bible and it seems that he wanted to follow the Christian way of doing it," he said, "In Islam... there is no need to hold the Koran."

Anwar, who was sacked as deputy premier in 1998 and jailed for six years on sodomy and corruption charges, said Saiful's mosque visit was part of the government conspiracy.

"They are afraid of me being an MP and going on to become the opposition leader in parliament," he said last week.


Or, perhaps, it is just a lurid sex story returns to haunt Malaysia ?

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