Cabinet next Wednesday should instruct Attorney-General to support bail application by Anwar Ibrahim on July 14 to be freed from Sungei Buloh prison to await the completion of the appeal process against his sodomy conviction and nine-year jail sentence
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Kota Kinabalu, Friday): The Cabinet next Wednesday should instruct the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail to support the bail application by former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to the Court of Appeal on July 14 to be freed from Sungei Buloh prison to await the completion of the appeal process against his sodomy conviction and nine-year jail sentence.
This is the only right and honourable thing for the government to do after the release of the reformasi activists from the Internal Security Act early last month to demonstrate a greater respect for human rights and public opinion, both national and international – and to set a leadership by example in the region at a time when ASEAN countries are urging the Myanmar military junta to immediately unconditionally release the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters and to embark on democratization and national reconciliation in Burma.
There is no credible reason whatsoever, whether in law, morality or politics, to deny Anwar his fundamental constitutional right to be released from prison on bail pending his appeal against sodomy conviction as the fear that he would abscond from the country or not return after going abroad for his long-delayed medical treatment is completely baseless and unfounded.
This is because no self-respecting politician would abscond from the country in such circumstances , as he would be committing political suicide by destroying his entire political credibility, integrity and legitimacy. This is the last thing Anwar would do, as it would give his political enemies the opportunity to dismiss him as an opportunist, a coward and even a “traitor”.
In fact, there is nothing which UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders would wish more than for Anwar to abscond from the country and commit political suicide as it would end one of their greatest political “headaches” arising from the arbitrary, cruel and unjust persecution and victimization of Anwar solely because of the political threat he posed to the powers-that-be.
As the possibility of Anwar’s absconding from the country to avoid the appeal process against his sodomy conviction is virtually nil (accompanied by the fact that there is nothing which would please the authorities more if Anwar should abscond from the country), the only reason for objecting bail for Anwar on July 14 collapses to the ground.
There have been suggestions that in granting bail, the court can impose conditions such as no press conferences or political activities by Anwar pending the completion of his appeal process.
This would be an abuse of the court process, confirming that Anwar’s prosecution, trial, conviction and sentence were purely politically-motivated than law-driven, as whether Anwar can hold press conferences or carry out his constitutional right as a Malaysian to express his political views and mobilize public support should have no relevance whatsoever with his sodomy trial, appeal and bail.
For this reason, the government should not be opposing bail for Anwar, and should go one step further, support Anwar’s application for bail on July 14 to demonstrate the return to the principle of “Justice for All”, as there would ordinarily be no objection for bail in a case like Anwar’s. That he is regarded as the nemesis for the powers-that-be is not reason enough why the law and the system of justice should be bent to serve an ulterior political agenda.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman