(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Today is the 36th day of the first of a series of trials former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is expected to face in the next few years. If the authorities have their way, Anwar would be spending the new few years commuting between jail and the courthouse. The present trial is on four of the ten criminal charges involving corruption and unnatural sex which had been preferred against Anwar.
Just before the present trial started before Justice Datuk Augustine Paul at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on November 2, the Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah announced that Anwar would be charged with the new offenses at the appropriate time. He had then given no details of the new cases but said evidence had been gathered.
With each passing day of what has been described as the "trial of the century", public credibility in the independence, impartiality and integrity of government institutions and officials have received repeated body blows and the greatest casualty in the Anwar trial of the century is probably public confidence in the institutions of government and democracy in Malaysia.
The latest example is the testimony by government forensic specialist Dr. Zahari Noor yesterday that there were no signs that Anwar’s adopted brother Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja had been sodomised, despite Sukma’s confession and guilty plea of such an act in April this year resulting in his six-month jail sentence.
Dr. Zahari, who examined Sukma on Sept. 9 this year, said under cross-examination that he concluded that there was no sodomy because there were no recent or old injuries on Sukma’s private parts.
Dr. Zahari’s testimony raises many disturbing questions which must be addressed at a larger public policy level because they go to the root question of public credibility and confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of government institutions and officials.
Dr. Zahari’s statement that she examined Sukma on Sept. 9 has been confirmed by a sworn affidavit made by Sukma on 10th December 1998 as well as a hand-written letter sent earlier by Sukma from incarceration to Anwar Ibrahim at Sungai Buluh Prison.
This is what Sukma said in his affidavit of December 10, 1998 in appealing
for a High Court revision of his guilty plea to set aside his conviction
"12. The next day I was taken to meet a forensic doctor to purportedly undergo DNA tests. Again, I was stripped naked and photographed. Samples of my blood, my hair, armpit hair and pubic hair were taken. But the saddest part of it all was when I had to suffer the indignity of the doctor inserting three fingers into my anus. The pain was unbearable.
"13. I was then taken to a room for interrogation. Here I was forced to relate my purported homosexual relationship with Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. I explained to them that Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim was not only like my adopted brother but also like my own father and that there was no homosexual relationship between us. But the more I related the truth, the more violent my interrogators become against me, saying I would be detained under the Internal Security Act. They said they could plant bullets in my house or car or they could buy one bullet to shoot me. They said bullets were cheap at only 45 cents each. They said if I confessed to homosexual activities with Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, I would be released the following week.
"14. From then onwards, owing to sheer terror following the inhumane treatment I got from my police interrogators, I started to create stories to appease them and prevent further harm to myself. The more stories I created, the happier they became. I admitted having a homosexual relationship with Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, although this was not the truth. My handcuffs were removed. I was allowed to wear clothes, given delicious food and drinks. I was also given cigarettes and assured I would be soon be released. I was asked to make a confession before a Magistrate. I did so on 17 September, 1998 before Magistrate Encik Abdul Karim bin Abdul Jalil. I emphatically state the so-called confession does not contain the truth. I created the stories therein contained to save further degradation of my being."
The question that comes to mind immediately is why Sukma was charged in court on Sept. 19 for allowing Anwar to have unnatural sex with him in April the same year when the government forensic specialist who examined Sukma on Sept. 9 must have told the police that there were no signs that he had been sodomised.
In early November, Malaysians learnt of the chilling testimony given by Police Special Branch Director, Datuk Mohamed Said Awang of the secret Special Branch technique to get witnesses to change their stands - to "turn over" their positions and "neutralise" them.
Replying to prosecution queries as to what procedure was used, Mohamed Said said: ``It is known in the Special Branch as a turning-over operation… The procedure is to turn them over so that they will change their stand''.
The testimonies by the Special Branch Director and the forensic specialist, together with other revelations in the 36-day Anwar trial, have created a crisis of confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of government institutions and officials which must be addressed as a matter of public importance and urgency.
For this reason, DAP calls for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the independence, impartiality and integrity of government institutions and officials in the handling of the Anwar Ibrahim case to restore public confidence in the institutions of government and democracy in Malaysia - which is an issue different and separate from the current Anwar Ibrahim trial and charges in the courts.