(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Barisan Nasional leaders and MPs are spouting fire and brimstone over the resolution in the United States Congress submitted by seven American Congressmen calling on the Malaysian government to give former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim a new trial "under fair and transparent procedures" or dismiss all the charges against him.
They argued that the government's actions in the two trials that the former deputy prime minister faced "represent a breakdown in democracy and the rule of law" in Malaysia and "have the potential to harm relations between the Government of the United States and the Government of Malaysia".
The resolution was tabled on Oct 27 and is currently before the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations.
The resolution is sponsored by Christopher Smith, Ms Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Tom Lantos, Dana Rohrabacher, Edward Royce, Neil Abercrombie and Robert Wexler.
It outlines the history behind Anwar's fall from grace, saying that he was arrested as a result of political disagreements. The Congress representatives added that Anwar's trial for corruption and sodomy was "marred by serious irregularities".
Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has led the Malaysian government counter-offensive by denouncing the seven United States Congressmen as "an interference in the country’s affairs" and Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ Club (BBC) Chairman, Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Mohd Jarjis had announced that government backbenchers would table a motion in the Dewan Rakyat next week to condemn the proposed US Congress resolution.
The BBC proposal to debate the proposed US Congress resolution in Parliament next week is the right and proper one and I hope Jamaluddin would not have "cold feet" and back down from a specific parliamentary debate on the matter or some trivial excuses given to avoid a specific parliamentary debate on the issue.
However, both the Malaysian Government and the Barisan Nasional MPs should face up to a new reality of international life that the sovereignty of national domestic affairs must reconcile with the new established international principle that the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community.
The Malaysian Government accepted this new international principle in global relations when it supported the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action unanimously adopted by the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights at Vienna in 1993.
This means that no country can now plead that any human right violation or erosion of the rule of law is a domestic sovereign right of any nation but must instead be able to withstand international scrutiny.
It is in accordance with this international principle that the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community that the 167th Inter-Parliamentary Council meeting in Jakarta on 21st October 2000 adopted without a vote a resolution adding its voice of concern and dismay at the trial of Anwar and calling for his immediate release from prison pending appeal.
The resolution of the Jakarta conference of the Council of the Inter- Parliamentary Union (IPU) should take a higher profile and priority among the legislators in the country as the IPU’s membership comes from 140 member Parliaments and five international parliamentary assemblies and represent a worldwide reach which seven US Congressmen cannot hope to match.
It is therefore even more important and urgent that the Malaysian Parliament should debate the IPU resolution deploring the treatment of Anwar Ibrahim, which should be taken and debated together in connection with the proposed resolution of the seven US Congressmen to be initiated by the BBC next week.
The IPU resolution adopted by the 167th Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 167th session in Jakarta on 21 October 2000 reads:
"Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Anwar Ibrahim, a member of the House of Representatives of Malaysia, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/167/12(c)-R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 166th session (May 2000),
"Taking account of the observations supplied by the Malaysian delegation to the 104th Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (October 2000), together with information provided by the source on 7 July and 12 September 2000, "Recalling the following information on file:
i. After his arrest in September 1998, Mr. Ibrahim was assaulted by the then Inspector General of Police, Rahim Noor. Following the findings of a specially instituted Royal Commission, Rahim Noor was charged with causing grievous bodily harm. He pleaded guilty only after the charge was amended to the lesser offence of "causing hurt". In March 2000 Rahim Noor was found guilty of that charge, fined US$ 530 and sentenced to two months' imprisonment; he was granted bail pending appeal;
ii. Mr. Anwar Ibrahim was found guilty on 14 April 1999 of corrupt practices and sentenced to six years' imprisonment. On 29 April 2000 the Court of Appeal upheld the verdict, ruling that there "was no doubt whatsoever" that Anwar Ibrahim had abused his official powers by ordering police in 1997 to intimidate two people into withdrawing sexual allegations against him. Mr. Ibrahim has now appealed to the last instance, the Federal Court;
iii. Mr. Karpal Singh, Ibrahim's defence counsel, stated in court on 10 September 1999 regarding Anwar Ibrahim's alleged arsenic poisoning: "It could well be that someone out there wants to get rid of him […] even to the extent of murder. I suspect that people in high places are responsible for the situation"; while Kuala Lumpur University Hospital (HUKM) concluded in its expert opinion that Anwar Ibrahim did not show classical clinical signs of acute or chronic arsenic poisoning, it stated that Anwar Ibrahim had developed "a number of medical problems and recommended that HUKM […] continue to assess and follow up on the patient's health status ...",
"Considering that both the trial judge and the Attorney General treated the statement made by Mr. Karpal Singh with appropriate concern and agreed that an independent medical investigation was essential, a decision which did not seem inappropriate in the light of Mr. Ibrahim's worsening state of health; that almost a month later, however, on 8 October 1999, the Attorney General authorised the prosecution of Mr. Singh for sedition; that Mr. Singh was granted bail and his case was adjourned to 24 October 2000 for a "mention on points of law",
"Considering the rejection on 5 September 2000 by the Malaysian Court of Appeal of the appeal of Mr. Zakaria, one of Anwar Ibrahim's defence counsel, against his three-month "contempt of court" jail sentence for having presented in court an affidavit to the effect that the prosecution had attempted to fabricate evidence against Mr.Ibrahim; recalling in this connection the many instances of harassment of Anwar Ibrahim's defence lawyers referred to in the Committee's report,
"Considering that, on 8 August 2000, the Kuala Lumpur High Court found Mr. Ibrahim and his adoptive brother, Mr. Sukma Darmawan, guilty of sodomy and sentenced them to nine and six years' imprisonment, respectively, which Anwar Ibrahim will have to serve consecutively with his other six-year term,
"Considering that the conviction was based primarily on contradictory statements given by Mr. Azizan Abu Bakar, Mr. Ibrahim's chauffeur, and the "confession" of Ibrahim's adoptive brother Mr. Darmawan, which he had retracted; Mr. Darmawan stated in court that his "confession" had been obtained under duress, detailing that he was stripped naked, slapped, subjected to humiliating verbal abuse, being forced to simulate homosexual acts and threatened with indefinite detention; without ordering an independent investigation, the judge accepted the police's denial of any abuse and ruled that the confession had been made voluntarily,
"Recalling in this connection that two other men, Mr. Munawar Anees, a distinguished Pakistani academic, and Mr. Mior Abdul Razak, a fashion designer, both of whom had been detained earlier because of their close association with Anwar Ibrahim, stated publicly that they were coerced by police into confessing to a sexual relationship with Anwar Ibrahim,
"Considering that, according to one of the sources, Mr. Ibrahim had to go on a hunger strike to obtain permission for his mother, who was ill, to visit him in prison; noting that, according to the Malaysian delegation, Mr. Ibrahim is treated like any other prisoner and even enjoys preferential treatment,
"Considering finally that, according to the Malaysian delegation,
Mr. Anwar Ibrahim has been found guilty and sentenced in accordance with