Call on Cabinet to take the bold step tomorrow to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Anwar’s  health and prison treatment  so that the question whether Anwar had suffered arsenic poisoning would not become the biggest unresolved political mystery of the century

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Although Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) only submitted its report on the medical tests conducted on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for arsenic poisoning to the Kuala Lumpur High Court late yesterday afternoon, for the past week, Barisan Nasional leaders led by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister had orchestrated a national and international campaign, speaking and acting  on the basis that there was no arsenic poisoning.

For instance, last Wednesday, all the local mass media splashed the interview given by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad  to the Public Broadcast Station (PB) when he was in New York, where he pronounced judgment on the allegation of Anwar's arsenic poisoning well before the completion of the medical tests.

Mahathir alleged that Anwar had  "smuggled out urine under a different name which was sent to a laboratory in Australia and they found arsenic in the urine and therefore he claims he is being poisoned."

Mahathir  said "The fact is that the amount of arsenic in the urine is compatible with someone ingesting a lot of seafood."

With such an open and public judgment by the Prime Minister on the allegation of Anwar's arsenic poisoning, it would take an extraordinarily brave HUKM, which had come under intense daily barrage of attacks by the Barisan-controlled Bahasa Malaysia media in the past fortnight, to suggest otherwise.

Even the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, who had earlier advised  all groups including those in the government to wait for the outcome of the probe being conducted by the authorities before making any comment on the Anwar Ibrahim poison issue, forgot his own advice and publicly announced two days ago that  clinical tests done locally and abroad  showed that  Anwar Ibrahim was not suffering from arsenic poisoning.

A day earlier, the  Deputy Minister in the Prime  Minister's Department Datuk Ibrahim Ali challenged DAP  deputy chairman Karpal Singh, who is one of  Anwar's defence counsel, to resign  as Member of Parliament or stop practising if the official results  show that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was not poisoned.

With such a menacing build-up involving the most powerful people in the country, coupled with the daily campaign of intimidation against the HUKM by the Barisan-controlled Bahasa Malaysia media, it would be the surprise of the century if the outcome of investigations had been different from what Mahathir and Abdullah had already publicly prejudged beforehand.

This is also the reason why in this instance,  there is the  least public credibility to the outcome of any tests and investigations in the history of Malaysia, not because of lack of public confidence in the professionalism of the HUKM medical team, but because of the blatant  prejudgement and campaign of arm-twisting by the powers-that-be.

Nagging doubts will persist as to whether Anwar was suffering from arsenic poisoning for the following reasons:

  1. Widespread conviction that something is physically wrong with Anwar, not just from his losing 12 kg (27 lbs) in the past year in prison, but also from  from his emaciated, gaunt and unhealthy appearance.  Anwar is suffering from erratic blood pressure, numbness, headaches and hair loss.
  2. The uncontradicted analysis by  a reputable Melbourne laboratory that dangerously high level of arsenic was found in Anwar's urine specimen taken on August 16, 1999.
  3. The opinion of a British dematologist, Dr. David Richards, who examined Anwar's hair and concluded that "most likely due to arsenic poisoning although one needs further biochecmical evidence".
  4. Although medical examination showed that Anwar was not suffering from arsenic poisoning when tests were taken in the middle of September, Malaysians want a more conclusive answer as to whether he was suffering from arsenic poisoning a month earlier in mid-August when the first  urine sample was taken.

DAP calls on the Cabinet tomorrow to take the bold step to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the health and prison treatment of Anwar Ibrahim so that the question whether Anwar had suffered arsenic poisoning, particularly in August this year, would not become the biggest unresolved political mystery of the century.

If the Barisan Nasional Government has nothing to hide, there is no reason why it should hesitate in establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry which could clear all doubts about Anwar’s arsenic poisoning as well as allay national and international concerns about Anwar’s health and prison treatment.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong