U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Monday as part of a two-week Asian tour and the buzz in the diplomatic circles is that she will not only be meeting Prime Minister Najib Razak, but also Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim who is poised to be jailed on flimsy sodomy charges ahead of snap general elections next year.
Indeed, speculation is growing that something might be afoot as the Obama administration has so far been seen as indifferent, even reluctant to take up the democracy cudgels in Southeast Asia, a region marked by many recalcitrant governments including Burma and Cambodia.
“We are not in a position to confirm Mrs Clinton’s schedule but we certainly hope that she will speak up for Anwar,” a top PKR official told Malaysia Chronicle.
Like Thailand, Malaysia has been displaying severe signs of stress as it tries to adjust to unprecedented political competition at home.
While the British-educated Najib has taken pains to portray himself as a 'moderate' during his overseas trips, he is actually the complete opposite once he is back. And nowhere did he exhibit this Jekyll-and-Hyde tendency more than at his Umno party’s annual assembly held recently.
At that meeting, Najib sounded alarm bells far and wide when he declared “This country does not have equal citizenship”, clamped down discussion of racial rights, and also vowed to defend his hold on power at all costs.”
"Even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost, brothers and sisters, whatever happens, we must defend Putrajaya," Najib had said.
Trial has gone out of control
At 57, Najib is some 6 years younger than Anwar - his arch rival from their Umno days in the 80s. Both had been shortlisted to be Mahathir’s deputy, but in the end, the more politically-savvy Anwar was chosen.
Although, they closed ranks and Najib later became part of Anwar’s clique, he was quick to abandon Anwar in 1998, when Mahathir sensing his grip on power was fading, decided to sack and jail his deputy on graft and sodomy charges.
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The international rebuke for the latest sodomy trial are even harsher. Anwar has denied the charges and accused Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor of having plotted the conspiracy against him.
World figures from former Canadian premier Paul Martin to Recep Edrogan, Paul Wolfowitz to Richard Branson, have spoken up for Anwar. Lawmakers from Australian, Canada, U.K., U.S. and most recently the Inter-Parliamentary Union have expressed support for Anwar and pointed out the weaknesses inherent in the ongoing trial.
“It has probably reached a stage where Najib is no longer thinking logically about the trial. He seems to be thinking, if the Burmese junta can do it to Aung San Suu Kyy, why can’t I get away with Anwar here? Hopefully, someone can talk some sense to him,” said the PKR official.