When Malaysians and the world were outraged by the political trials of Anwar Ibrahim, and the harsh and unconscionable nine-year jail sentence to run consecutively after he had served his current six-year jail sentence, Mahathir's remarks could have only one import - to give the imprimatur of his approval at the way the trial had been conducted and the sentences imposed on Anwar designed to keep the former Deputy Prime Minister in jail until 2014 and out of politics and public life until 2019!
When in the face of national and international outrage at the political trial of Anwar and the 15-year jail sentence, Mahathir came out publicly in defence of the High Court conviction and sentence, what chance is there for Anwar in his appeals to the Court of Appeal and Federal Court?
Mahathir's claim that Anwar "has been given every opportunity to defend himself" is all the more galling when he had himself frustrated this process by challenging the defence subpoena and refusing to keep his word made inside the country and internationally to appear in Anwar's trial to testify on his former deputy's crimes and guilt.
The very fact that Mahathir felt that there was nothing wrong for the Prime Minister to comment on a judicial cause celebre which has yet to fully exhaust its appeal process, sending a clear signal to the higher courts of the Prime Minister's wishes in a case when the whole world knows that he has a direct personal interest, is symptomatic of the utter tatters which the doctrine of the separation of powers in Malaysia had been reduced to after 19 years of Mahathir's premiership, particularly between the Executive and the Judiciary.
No Prime Minister who is fully committed to the rule of law
and sensitive to national and international opinion about the Executive's
respect of the doctrine of separation of powers particularly with regard
to a truly independent judiciary, would have made comments about a case
still in mid-stream in the way which Mahathir had done on the Anwar conviction
The first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein On had never committed such a grave impropriety as to act or say anything signalling the Executive wishes to the judiciary in a controversial political case.
Mahathir should withdraw and apologize for his improper and unbecoming
comments on the Anwar Ibrahim case in indicating the Prime Minister's
wishes as to how Anwar should be treated in his trials when the appeal
process has not yet been exhausted.