Malaysian Opposition Trial Soon Over


The leader of the political opposition and member of the Malaysian parliament Anwar Ibrahim, 67 years old, will likely be sentenced this Thursday, October 30th, in the reoccurring sodomy trial the Malaysian government has pursued against him. Anwar Ibrahim was charged with committing sodomy against one of his former aides several years ago. He was originally exonerated after a trial in 2012, however the Malaysian government appealed the ruling and an appeals court reversed the acquittal earlier this year. Sodomy in Malaysia is illegal under a law that dates back to the British colonial era, however only about a half a dozen individuals have ever been charged with a crime under this law. Many have commented that this law has been primarily used as a means of silencing Anwar Ibrahim, who has been the linchpin of the opposition group, the People’s Alliance, in Malaysia.

If convicted, Anwar Ibrahim faces up to 20 years in prison. Anwar has claimed that he is confident that he will be again be found innocent in court and that the accusations leveled against him are wholly politically motivated. Anwar is the leader of the People’s Alliance, which is an opposition group that has been trying to push Malaysia’s ruling party alliance, the United Malays National Organization that has held power since the 1950’s, out of power for over a decade. Anwar had begun his political career as a political leader while studying as a university student and eventually became Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister. After a conflict with then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar was removed from this office and has worked as a leader of the opposition ever since.

Despite promises that Malaysia’s current government, under Prime Minister Najib, that the government would become more inclusive and open there have been several dozens investigations held against members of the opposition. It is believed that perceived discontent among members of the ruling government may be behind this crackdown, as removing members of the opposition may allow the ruling party to remain in power despite a divided base. Former Prime Minister Mahathir has even pulled his support from Prime Minister Najib. Anwar has suggested that, if he is found innocent after this most recent trial, it is very likely that he will be shortly accused of sedition.

The court in Malaysia where Anwar’s trial is being held has also been the site of numerous protests both in support and opposition to Anwar, as well as several hundred members of law enforcement who have been deployed to keep the peace between the two groups. Anwar has also received several offers of political asylum, particularly as he had recently traveled outside of the country, however has stated that he will remain in Malaysia in order to fully represent his people and coalition. If Anwar is convicted, this may signal the end of the People’s Alliance. The People’s Alliance is a coalition between the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party and the Democratic Action Party. The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party is a more conservative, religious party, in contrast to the socialist leaning, secular Democratic Action Party. Without the charismatic leadership of Anwar, these two parties may not be able to continue their coalition.


Related posts: