The reason why Anwar Ibrahim now sits daily in the dock of the Kuala Lumpur High Court undergoing trial on a criminal charge is obvious to any thinking person.
Anwar tried to set in train a series of fundamental changes to the way this country is being administered and to our national political discourse. These changes would almost certainly have rendered the Barisan Nasional (BN) government irrelevant and eventually driven them from power.
It is of no matter to the BN government and its leaders that these changes are supremely beneficial to the people. It is only their own political survival that matters to them. Upon this survival they are obsessively fixated, to the utter exclusion of what is good for the country.
Anwar's reforms would have driven out economic mismanagement and wasteful corruption and cronyism; freed from political control institutions that were meant to be independent; and returned to us the political freedoms wrested away by the BN government over the course of 50 long years.
The BN's structures, imperatives and personalities make it virtually impossible for them to embrace reform and to redeem themselves. And so they tighten their debilitating grip on a country that is struggling to move forward towards freedom and prosperity for all, and use underhand means to strike down anyone fighting to return power to the people. Thus, Anwar sits daily in a hard angular dock, and the nation's fate hangs in balance.
It is nothing new for intolerant regimes to organise trumped-up charges against political opponents. In the 1930s, Stalin engineered a series of show trials which disposed of all those who posed any kind of threat to his power. In 1995 Ken Saro Wiwa, a highly respected critic of the Nigerian government was tried on fabricated charges by a military tribunal and executed despite international condemnation.
In 2009 Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to 3 years of hard labour in prison after a sham trial on a ridiculous charge of having broken house arrest. Brave Chinese dissidents such as Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo are regularly prosecuted in the communist regime's unrighteous courts and given long prison sentences.
It is in this revolting tradition that the Barisan Nasional government now carries on the judicial persecution and show trial of Anwar Ibrahim. It fools no one that this hounding of Anwar Ibrahim is clothed and camouflaged by a debased type of formal legal process.
As the chief instrument of this persecution, the Attorney-General’s Office must be comprehensively reformed, and his untrammelled powers must be checked by far-reaching legislative reforms.
The higher police authorities and the government must be held accountable for the outrage done to the course of public justice and for the sheer waste of public funds necessitated by these proceedings.
No nation struggling to a new birth of freedom can be held down for long. The road may be long and hard, but I call upon the people of our great nation to stay the course and see things through. We owe this to ourselves and to the generations to come.
The writer is vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.