AG Gani Patail should withdraw all objections to Anwar’s application tomorrow for bail pending appeal of his sodomy conviction and sentence to mark the beginning of the depoliticisation of the administration of justice
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail should withdraw all objections to Anwar Ibrahim’s application tomorrow for bail pending appeal of his sodomy conviction and nine-year jail sentence to mark the beginning of the depoliticisation of the administration of justice.
There can be no good, honourable or credible reason in law and justice to deny Anwar his constitutional right to be released on bail pending appeal of his sodomy conviction and sentence, except for the improper politicisation of the administration of justice which had plunged the Malaysian system of justice in recent times to its lowest point of credibility and public confidence in the nation’s history and made it the laughing stock of the international legal and judicial community as evident from the international indictment, “Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000” – the joint report of the International Bar Association, the ICJ Center for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, The Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association and The Union Internationale Des Avocats.
Malaysia unfortunately has remained on the radar screen of censure of the international legal and judicial community. Last Monday, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) issued a 10-page report which condemned the Malaysian authorities for the harassment, intimidation and prosecution of lawyer P. Uthayakumar as “a serious threat” to the independence of lawyers and their abilities to discharge their duty to uphold a just rule of law.
Tomorrow’s bail application hearing by Anwar will again propel Malaysia onto the radar screen of international legal and judicial attention and scrutiny and the Malaysian system of justice will again come under unfavourable judgement and even attract another censorious international report if Anwar is unfairly denied his freedom pending appeal.
The only reason which could be credibly advanced for denying bail for Anwar is that he would abscond from the country or not return after going abroad for his long-delayed medical treatment.
This is completely baseless and unfounded as 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 is no business of the courts and should have no relevance whatsoever with his sodomy trial, appeal and bail.
Let Anwar be free tomorrow pending the appeal process of his sodomy conviction and sentence and let the process of depoliticisation of the administration of justice take its first halting step.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman