Call on PM Abdullah to secure royal pardon for Anwar for the corruption
conviction for a national “healing process” from the past subversion of
the democratic process and the independence of state institutions and
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Monday): The Federal Court decision rejecting a review of the corruption conviction of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is most deplorable, regrettable and unfortunate for two reasons:
Firstly, Anwar has exhausted all legal avenues to clear his name and in addition to regaining his personal liberty in the landmark Sept. 2 Federal Court judgment acquitting him of the sodomy conviction, also to immediately restore all his full political, civil and citizenship rights. The Federal Court decision today confirms that Anwar continues to be disenfranchised and cannot hold office in political parties and societies or stand for elective office until April 14, 2008.
Secondly, the appropriateness of the warning that “a swallow does not a summer make” and that the landmark Sept. 2 Federal Court decision must be judged as to whether it is an isolated case or whether it ushered in a new era of judicial independence, impartiality and integrity particularly in political and economic interests where the ruling government has a vast vested interest.
Yesterday’s unanimous UMNO Supreme Council decision on the eve of the Federal Court ruling shutting UMNO’s doors for the re-admission of Anwar, as well as the public revelation that at the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had told the Cabinet last week that UMNO would not re-admit Anwar, raised the legitimate and disturbing question whether they had the effect of pressuring the Federal Court to reject Anwar’s application for a review of his corruption conviction.
It was the height of impropriety for the issue on whether Anwar would be readmitted back into UMNO to be discussed at the Cabinet last week. Nobody can find fault if the issue of Anwar’s readmission into UMNO is raised at a National Front Supreme Council meeting – but for it to be raised at a Cabinet meeting shows a disturbing blurring of the distinction between government and party, of right and wrong. This is not an auspicious start or sign for a new culture of political integrity with zero tolerance for corruption and abuse of power.
One consequence of the Federal Court decision today would appear to be the setting of the life-span of the present Parliament and the time-table for the 12th general election – that it would be held before April 2008 before Anwar could restore his full political and civil rights to stand for elective office.
As Anwar has exhausted all his legal remedies to clear himself of the corruption conviction, the ball is now in the court of the Prime Minister to take the initiative to secure a royal pardon for Anwar, especially as there had been calls by the “mainstream media” after the Sept. 2 landmark Federal Court judgment for the beginning of a national “healing process” from the past subversion of the democratic process and the independence of state institutions and organs.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman