The recent Federal Court decision not to review its 2002 ruling to reject Anwar Ibrahim's appeal on the corruption charge of abusing his power to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct was not surprising though disappointing.
The judicial review which Anwar Ibrahim had made an application for was rare in Malaysia's legal system, and it needed rare courage on the part of the Federal Court, especially in the face of political pressure, to overturn its previous decision.
It in fact served as a rare opportunity for the Federal Court to break new ground and to set things right to a grave and protracted injustice done to the former deputy prime minister and his family.
But sadly, the court decided that it had found no exceptional circumstances to warrant a review of a case which was no doubt 'exceptional' in every sense of the word.
The Anwar Ibrahim corruption case was one where the prosecution was permitted to alter the charges (move the goalpost) after the completion of their evidence, and after Anwar's name was smeared throughout a large part of the trial.
Exceptional indeed was this case where the then attorney-general was permitted to head the prosecution team despite being implicated in Anwar Ibrahim's defence of political conspiracy.
Equally exceptional was the determination of the relevance of defence witnesses before they gave evidence, and the defence team being prevented from producing key evidence and witnesses.
Could there be anything more exceptional than one of Anwar Ibrahim's lawyers being jailed for contempt of court for having followed the instructions of his client in submitting an application to remove two senior prosecutors due to their attempt to fabricate evidence against Anwar?
History will remember how the line of defence by some of the best legal brains in the country was determined and dictated by an 'irrelevant' judge - described by a Federal Court in a related case as 'more like acting as counsel for the prosecution'.
There was also the harsh sentence on Anwar which the late former judge Harun Hashim found as 'unusual' for the sentence did not include the time already spent in jail. 'If a person is on remand, usually the sentence dates to the date of arrest,' he said.
The Federal Court's decision brings to a close what Christopher Fernando, lead counsel for Anwar, has called, '... the most unfair trial ever in Malaysian history'.
Anwar himself had described in mitigation in open court that his trial judgment was one that, '... stinks to high heaven'.
But the Anwar corruption case will not go away without things being set right and justice restored. It will return to haunt this nation from time to time just like the sacking of the then Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas in 1988.
Very ironically the politicisation of the judiciary (seen in the main and related trials of Anwar Ibrahim) has its roots in the sacking of the judiciary by what Rais Yatim - in his book Freedom under Executive Power in Malaysia: A Study of Executive Supremacy - had so accurately called 'political manipulations'.
Rais' perfect conclusion to the whole episode was: 'The decision to remove Salleh and his two colleagues was a political one although the modus operandi might seem to have followed constitutional arrangement'.
(So too was the 'removal' of Anwar Ibrahim through the courts. Perhaps things would have been different if he had not kept silent in 1998?)
The current chief justice wants us to believe that there has been an increase in public confidence in the judiciary of late. But for the past six years, the public has seen how the judiciary has allowed itself to be intimidated, its independence interfered with, and its integrity reduced to ignominy.
Will it be able to heal itself is the gnawing question we are left with.
There are, however, some who disagree with what I have expressed above which basically echoes Anwar's contention that the Malaysia's highest court had bent to government (the executive's) pressure.
For instance, a lawyer friend of mine practising in Kuala Lumpur, Joy Appukutta, feels that it was quite a fair judgment. "We in the legal circle can safely vouch for the integrity of two of the panel judges, Abdul Malek Ahamd and Siti Norma. They are known for their courageous stance in administering justice without fear or favour," he said.
Since election laws bar those who have been convicted from holding any political positions or contesting in polls for a period of five years, Anwar would have to wait until April 14, 2008 if he wants to make a political comeback.
Another option he could resort to if he wants to return to politics immediately is to seek a royal pardon but those close to him feel that to do so would be unacceptable to him as it would imply him admitting guilt.
Perhaps Anwar could take the advice of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng (who went through the same predicament and returned to active politics on Aug 25) of being a 'conscience leader' from the sidelines or even an honorary or spiritual adviser (of Parti Keadilan Rakyat).
The next four years need not be years of political wilderness for Anwar Ibrahim but rather an opportune time for recuperation and catching up with his family.
They could be also years of soul-searching and in showing the nation how genuine he is in pushing for 'genuine reforms' for a system which he was very much a part of for 17 long years, and to which he ultimately became a victim.
Anwar was right when he acknowledged recently that: 'The political landscape has changed'. Whether he will be a major player in the transforming political landscape will depend very much on whether the former prisoner of Sg Buloh has changed and will himself change.