Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"ANWAR GAVE HOPE TO THE NATION" ~ AMBIGA SREENEVASAN



By Alyaa Azhar | Malaysiakini

It is important for everybody to remember what Anwar Ibrahim - incarcerated for the second time, this time on a second sodomy charge - has gone through in the last 17 years.

In her review of the book titled The Prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim: The Final Play, prominent lawyer-cum-activist Ambiga Sreenevasan read a passage, quoting the vivid moments when Anwar suffered severe beatings during the first sodomy charge against him.

"He was boxed on his temple, hit on his neck… He said he was handcuffed and blindfolded and savagely kicked and punched.

"Some junior police officers helped him. Anwar said without their help, he might have died.

"I read that passage; I hope it didn't upset you," Ambiga said, looking at Anwar's wife, parliamentary Opposition Leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who was in the audience at the launch of the new book by Australian criminal lawyer and Queen's Counsel Mark Trowell.

For the audience at the event held at the Royal Selangor Club last night, it was indeed a jolt back to a dark moment in Malaysia's 'Reformasi' period of 1998.

"We forget too quickly that he suffered in so many ways; and the manner in which he was treated would have cowed anyone else.

"He spent six years in prison on a corruption charge. Corruption, that's a joke, how small (in magnitude), considering the kind of corruption we are facing right now. How many years do they deserve? I don't know how many hundreds of years (to be proportional to the) RM2.6 billion," Ambiga said, in reference to the amount of money deposited into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's personal bank accounts.

'He continues to fight the system'

And 17 years after the influential leader was sacked from his deputy premiership, he is still languishing in prison, Ambiga noted.

"He came out and for several years made a difference. He was responsible for bringing several disparate parties together and made them work together in a coalition, giving hope to the nation.

"And for that, I think we must never forget the sacrifices made by him and his family.

"I highlighted that passage because I feel we must never forget how the system turned on one man and how that one man fought back and continues to fight back," she added.

Reminding the audience again of the prosecution faced by Anwar back in 1998, Ambiga said she had never dreamed that the people would be treated to front pages of newspapers giving detailed descriptions of sodomy.

"That trial robbed the nation of its innocence. Nothing was sacred, the bounds of decency meant nothing.

"Can you imagine what this did to the psyche of our children; and what about the psyche of our nation?

"It destroyed something, this trial that took place. These prosecutions should never have been brought," Ambiga stressed.

Power abusers may one day be the victims

Ambiga also had a warning for those who condoned or perpetrated the abuse of any of the country's institutions or their powers.

"They will do well to remember that they, too, may one day become the victims. We have seen it happen.

"In other words, you create a monster, tomorrow it may gobble you up," she cautioned.

The 376-page book by Trowell recounts both Anwar's first sodomy case as well as his second. It also describes the acquittal of the second sodomy charge, as well as the sentence by the Court of Appeal which overturned that decision last year.

The guilty verdict was upheld on Feb 10 this year by the Federal Court and the PKR de facto leader is currently serving his five-year jail sentence at the Sungai Buloh Prison.

[Reproduced from Malaysiakini as a community service]




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