The decision of the Federal Court today to free Anwar Ibrahim is the clearest indication yet that the judiciary in Malaysia is beginning to function once again as an independent institution which is not beholden to any power.
If the judiciary is prepared to assert its independence it is largely because judges know that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is sincere when he says that they are free to make decisions guided by the principles of law and the canons of justice.
Independent-minded judges are now confident that there will be no executive interference in the judicial process. They do not have to try to read the mind of the prime minister in cases which may have political ramifications.
The Anwar verdict in that sense is a great victory for the judiciary. But most of all it is a triumph for Abdullah who is trying hard to uphold the principles of good governance - one of the most important of which is respecting the independence and the integrity of the judiciary.
The writer is the president of the International Movement for a Just World (Just).