(Penang, Tuesday): The Federal Court tomorrow will be the focus of national
and world attention as it convenes to deliver judgment in the appeal by former
deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim against his conviction for
corruption and six-year jail sentence, as at stake is not just the liberty and
justice for Anwar but the system of justice in Malaysia.
Anwar’s lawyer, Sankara Nair, said Anwar deserves an
outright acquittal and hoped that the Federal Court will right the wrongs of the
High Court and Court of Appeal in the Anwar corruption trial.
Foreign governments, possible foreign investors and the
international legal and human rights community will be following closely the
Federal Court judgment tomorrow. In
January this year, the United States Ambassador to Malaysia, Marie T. Huhtala
said that the United States
government stood firm on its conviction that
the Anwar trials were “manifestly unfair”, that Anwar did not get fair court trials but believed this
could be “corrected in the appeals process”.
followed her statement to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a nominee
for US Ambassador to Malaysia on 25th July 2001, where she said:
“We remain deeply concerned by the case of jailed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the treatment of members of the political opposition. As Malaysia develops into a high-tech economy and information society, restrictions on basic rights such as freedom of speech and assembly are incompatible with its long-term goals. This is an area where we can work with Malaysia to develop modern political freedoms to match its modernizing economy.”
There have been a lot of speculation and rumours about the
Federal Court judgment and DAP hopes that tomorrow, Anwar could be acquitted of
the corruption conviction and be freed on bail pending his appeal against the
sodomy conviction and nine-year
There have been a lot of speculation and rumours about the Federal Court judgment and DAP hopes that tomorrow, Anwar could be acquitted of the corruption conviction and be freed on bail pending his appeal against the sodomy conviction and nine-year jail sentence.
The coincidence of the Federal Court judgment with the Anak
Bukit and Pendang by-elections Nomination Day is most extraordinary.
It is also most extraordinary that the weekly Wednesday
Cabinet meeting tomorrow should be changed and brought forward today due to the
nominations for the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections.
However, the Federal Court judgment on the Anwar appeal
will not be overshadowed by the nominations for the two Kedah by-elections,
although it will be overshadowed by the enactment of the Syariah Criminal
Offences (Hudud and Qisas Bill) by the PAS Terengganu state government in the
Terengganu State Assembly yesterday.
The enactment of the Hudud and Qisas Bill by the PAS
Terengganu State Government marks the final failure of the Barisan Alternative
to create a two-coalition system in Malaysia, inspired by the political ferment
in the immediate aftermath of the Anwar sacking and persecution by the Mahathir
In the sea-change of the
post-911 political scenario both on the global and local scene, instead
of greater emphasis on moderation and social tolerance for plural Malaysia,
there is the unhealthy competition between UMNO and PAS to “out-Islam” each
other – as characterized by the “929 Declaration” of Datuk Seri Dr.
Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan national assembly on September 29 last year that
Malaysia is an Islamic State and the enactment of the Hudud and Qisas Bill by
the PAS Terengganu State Government yesterday.
In Kuching yesterday, Mahathir praised the first Prime
Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman for uniting Malaysians of all races, but
Mahathir has broken ranks from one of Tunku’s most important legacies as Bapa
Malaysia – the Tunku’s pledge and commitment not to turn Malaysia into an
Islamic state and to defend and preserve the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the
“social contract” and 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a democratic,
secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not
an Islamic State.
After he took over the PAS leadership following the death
of Datuk Fadhil Noor, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang dismissed fears that he would
be more “extreme” than his predecessor and said that his answer will be
through his actions and decisions.
But though he spoke the language of a “moderate
agenda”, his action and decision proved otherwise, as illustrated by the
precipitate decision to enact the Hudud and Qisas Bill although it is against the Malaysian Constitution, violates human
rights, discriminate against women, destroys
the whole basis of the 1999 Barisan Alternative Common Manifesto “Towards A
Just Malaysia” and flouts strong and widespread objections by the civil
It is most shocking and completely unacceptable that Hadi
has upped the ante in the rivalry with UMNO to “out-Islam” each other with
his statement when winding up the debate on the Hudud and Qisas Bill yesterday
that PAS would impose the hudud and qisas laws to even non-Muslims in the state
“when every citizen understands them”.
Hadi’s latest statement that hudud and qisas would
finally be imposed on non-Muslims and the ever escalating cycle of competititon
between UMNO and PAS to “out-Islam” each other is not good news for
Malaysia’s future, whether in nation-building or in attracting foreign
investments at a time when China has emerged as the biggest magnet for foreign
direct investments with her entry into the World Trade Organisation.
What Malaysia needs is the strong voice of moderation and social tolerance. Malaysians should revisit Anwar’s 1996 book, The Asian Renaissance, where he wrote specifically on the hudud issue and said that he is supportive of Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s advocacy for fiqh al-awlawiyyat, the understanding of the priorities of Islamic law, and that “the application of the hudud …is not necessarily among the top priorities of contemporary societies.” (page 119).
“True, Southeast Asian Muslims are not without their share of problems. But what differentiates them from their brethren in other parts of the world is their sense of priorities. The proponents of the imposition of Muslim laws or the establishment of an Islamic state are confined to the periphery. Southeast Asian Muslims prefer to concentrate on the task of ensuring economic growth and eradicating poverty, instead of amputating the limbs of thieves. They would rather strive to improve the welfare of the women and children in their midst, than spend their days elaborately defining the nature and institutions of the ideal Islamic State. They do not believe it would make one less of a Muslim to promote economic growth, to master the information revolution, and to demand justice for women. Nor do they believe it would strengthen one’s commitment to religion by instilling anxiety among people of other faiths.’ (page 114)