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BN gov't cannot afford a repeat of 1998 Anwar trial

On the cusp of attaining political power, Anwar Ibrahim is hit again with allegations of sodomy.

This has been seen by many as plot to assassinate him politically and to lock him up to keep him away from the political scene.

Never mind that this round is even more unbelievable than the first round in 1998 when he was charged and convicted on similar allegations. The fact is that convincing the public of his guilt now will be an uphill task.

The standard of proof in this case will need to be very high to convince a skeptical public who feel that they had been served with a litany of deceit and chicanery to insult their intelligence in that infamous case 10 years ago.

We must remember that in 1998, Anwar Ibrahim was convicted of sodomy on the most filmiest of evidence.

He was basically convicted on the testimony of one man who proved to be an unreliable witness by changing his story many times in court. The accuser in question had not even been medically examined to certify that he had been sodomised.

The attorney-general then changed the date of the alleged act twice. In the first date tendered, the condominium where the crime was alleged to have taken place was not even built yet!

Two of Anwar’s male associates who were convicted of having a sexual relationship with him declared publicly that their confessions were extracted under extreme duress and sought legal redress.

Anwar’s tennis partner was arrested for illegal possession of a bullet although he had a gun license and allegedly threatened with the death penalty if he did not cooperate in implicating Anwar. When the plot was exposed in court, the judge sentenced the lawyer to jail for bringing it up.

In the absence of any substantial evidence, a stained mattress was carried in and out of court to the bemusement of the public.

The judge had been specially promoted to hear the case. Suffice to say that the conduct of the judge did not give the impression of impartiality.

In light of the above events, the public can be forgiven for treating the current allegation against Anwar with grave doubt. Failure to expel their doubts will reinforce the suspicion that Anwar is yet again a victim of political persecution.

Should Anwar be charged and brought to trial again, the powers-that-be had best not treat the public as gullible imbeciles as in 1998.

He cannot be convicted on the basis of one accuser’s testimony without any collaborative evidence. Any evidence tendered must be ironclad.

The judge selected to hear the case must be well-known for his impartiality when deciding cases involving the government. I would suggest that justice Sri Gopal Ram or Ian Chin will be a good choice.

If the authorities are not absolutely certain that Anwar can be convicted in a fair trial, it is best to drop the case. Malaysia cannot afford a repeat of the 1998 trial which saw the reputation of the judiciary being dragged through mud.

The political repercussion of a show trial akin to 1998 will be enough to generate another political tsunami which will surely sweep the BN from power.