Malaysia's international reputation as a mature, civil and decent society in utter tatters as a result of the cruel persecution of Anwar Ibrahim

Extracts of Speech 
- at the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (Auckland Branch) at the Auckland University
Lim Kit Siang

(Auckland, Wednesday):  Yesterday in Wellington, when I first received news of the conviction and sentence of the second trial of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, I made the following statement at a media conference held after the Socialist International Asia-Pacific Committee meeting:

"The criminal trial, conviction and sentence of Anwar Ibrahim for the second time is another indictment of the system of justice and governance in Malaysia.

"Although the conviction is not unexpected and even the nine-year jail sentence not totally unthinkable, their announcement could not dull the sense of outrage and despair of many Malaysians who had hoped that basic decency and elementary justice would govern Malaysian public life."

At that time, I was under the impression that Anwar's new nine-year jail sentence was to run concurrently with his current six-year jail sentence, and I did not discover until after the media conference that the nine-year jail sentence is actually to run consecutively after he had served his current sentence, which would mean a full 15 years' jail sentence for Anwar, going all the way to 2014 and keeping Anwar out of politics and public life until 2019 as he would be disenfranchised for five years after leaving prison.

I was terribly upset when I learnt of the consecutive nature of the new nine-year jail sentence for this manner of persecution of Anwar is not only very harsh, but downright cruel.

It is no surprise that the additional nine-year consecutive jail sentence for Anwar has outraged and horrified Malaysians and the world, and Malaysia's international reputation as a mature, civil and decent society is in utter tatters as a result of this cruel persecution of Anwar.

Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has just started his 20th year of Prime Minister of Malaysia and his persecution of Anwar Ibrahim has made Malaysians ashamed rather than being proud as Malaysians in the new millennium, as Malaysians cannot hold their heads high whether in the country or in the international arena.

It was precisely to protect and save Malaysia's soul that the Opposition parties in the country came together for the first time in Malaysian political history to form the Barisan Alternative to try to bring about a paradigm shift in Malaysian politics by breaking the political hegemony of Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional and depriving it of its uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority.

The Barisan Alternative parties of DAP, PAS, Keadilan and PRM agreed that the basis of their accord is to create a just Malaysia by restoring  justice, freedom, democracy and good governance so that rank injustices like the Lim Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim cases would never blight Malaysia's conscience and good name.

But this was not to be, for the Barisan Nasional succeeded in its politics of fear, intimidation and falsehoods in preserving its two-thirds parliamentary majority, although UMNO suffered its greatest electoral setback in history.

Since the last general election, there had been a deterioration in the multiple crisis afflicting the countrys   justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, specially highlighted by the nation's worst crisis of confidence in the accountability, independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary - which might have been averted if the Barisan Alternative had succeeded in denying the Barisan Nasional its two-thirds parliamentary
majority and ended its political hegemony.

The Anwar Ibrahim's case of 15-year jail sentences should be a reminder of the central  importance of sustaining the  Barisan Alternative to bring about fundamental reforms in our political system to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance so that Malaysians can hold their heads high, in the country and in the international arena.

The events of the past eight months after last general election have shown that if the Barisan Alternative is to be sustained and to succeed in garnering increasing support from Malaysians to the cause of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, political differences which can divide the opposition front and undermine public support must be addressed urgently.

The latest testimony of the cruel persecution of Anwar should give new resolve to the Barisan Alternative to reach a new accord to continue the unfinished challenge of restoring justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, with PAS demonstrating that its political Islam is compatible with  justice, tolerance, democracy, human rights, cultural pluralism, development and modernisation.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman