14 March 2015
The jailing of Anwar Ibrahim following a second sodomy conviction could trigger a chain of events that could shake up Malaysian politics. Unlike after his first jailing in 1998, the opposition, which he leads, is already split and could crumble. But this may well play out as Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is currently under siege within his ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), fights for his own survival. Anwar currently is serving a jail term of five years for what he maintains was a political conspiracy by his enemies, including Prime Minister Najib.
Unless pardoned by the Malaysian King, the verdict could well end the 67-year-old Anwar’s political career. Besides losing his parliamentary seat, by the time he is released, he would be 72 making any political comeback difficult. But the former deputy prime minister has in the past proven to be like a cat with nine lives — and might just have one more. His family’s move to petition for a royal pardon was unexpected, but that prevented Anwar from losing his parliamentary seat pending the King’s decision. Anwar did not make the appeal, insisting on his innocence.
In 2000, two years after he was sacked as deputy premier following a clash with then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad over the handling of the Asian financial crisis, Anwar was jailed for his first sodomy conviction. He was released four years later when that conviction was overturned by the court. Anwar countered his latest court verdict with a vow to continue his fight from behind bars, thus promising to turn himself into a political martyr.
…Yang Razali Kassim is a Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 17/03/2015