(Seremban, Sunday): The Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has said that the Foreign Ministry had sent "strong" protest notes to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union and international organisations in response to their statements attacking Malaysia's judiciary in its handling of the criminal cases against former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Syed Hamid denied that Anwar’s case was a political case, claiming that it was criminal in nature.
Malaysian government leaders should wake up and learn to live with the new international realities where no country can claim immunity from international scrutiny, criticism and condemnation for gross violation of basic human rights and democratic freedoms.
Instead of protesting with foreign governments and international organisations, the Malaysian government should be engaged in more fruitful endeavours as restoring national and international confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judicial system.
Barisan Nasional leaders should respect and respond to the national
and international outrage to the cruel and unconscionable persecution of
Anwar Ibrahim, where he is being jailed for a total of 15 years and will
not walk out a freeman until 2014 and taken out of politics and public
life until 2019 because of the five-year disenfranchisement from the date
of prison release.
In response to the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision on Tuesday which found Anwar guilty of sodomy and sentenced him to nine years in jail, which will start once he finishes a six-year jail term for corruption that began in April last year, a number of countries issued statements expressing their concern and making allegations such as on the partiality of the judiciary and political interference in the trial.
These countries include the United States, Canada, Australia,
New Zealand and the European Union.
Two points are at issue here:
Firstly, was Syed Hamid right when he denied that Anwar’s case was a political case, claiming that there is judicial independence and Malaysia’s system of justice is basically similar to that found in other countries.
It is clear that the countries referred to by Syed Hamid would squirm with embarrassment at his claim that Malaysia’s system of justice is "basically similar" to theirs after the international legal community had repeatedly issued reports which were damning indictments of the independence, impartiality and integrity of the Malaysian judiciary. The latest such report was "Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000", released internationally in April this year and which the Cabinet and the Malaysian Judiciary are still unable to respond and rebut the serious condemnation of the system of justice in the country.
Furthermore, Syed Hamid’s claim about the Malaysian system of justice and the conduct of Anwar’s trials would not find support in the country, whether in the legal profession or among the Malaysian public at large.
Is Syed Hamid prepared to propose to the Cabinet that an opinion survey be conducted firstly among the lawyers in the country, and secondly among the Malaysian public, to ascertain as to whether they agree with the statements made by foreign governments and international organisations attacking the Malaysian government and judiciary for the injustices in the handling of the criminal cases against Anwar?
The second issue is whether the foreign countries and international organisations are guilty of interfering in Malaysian domestic affairs in their criticisms on the Anwar trial, conviction and sentence?
Both Abdullah, who had been Foreigh Minister for quite a long time, and Hamid seem to suffer from amnesia, forgetting that in 1993, 171 United Nations member states including Malaysia participating in the World Conference on Human Rights at Vienna unanimously adopted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action which, among other things, declared the following tenets:
In fact, the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Syed Hamid’s proper function as Foreign Minister is to report to the
Cabinet the international outrage at the cruel and unconscionable persecution
of Anwar and to persuade the Cabinet to restore national and international
confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary
by a total overhaul of the judicial system in the country - which are also
prerequisites to the nation’s quest to be an information society and K-economy.