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Saturday, December 31, 2011

RPK: There’s life after Anwar

The sodomy charge against Anwar was not trumped up and he will be found guilty on Jan 9, says popular blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin.
PETALING JAYA: Reform activist and influential blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin believes that Anwar Ibrahim was a victim of a honey-trap, but quickly added that the opposition leader was given a fair trial.
He is also certain that Anwar will be found guilty on Jan 9. However, he predicts a low-key reaction from the people on the guilty verdict. Interestingly, he says both PAS and DAP would be less than keen to make Anwar’s conviction a Pakatan Rakyat agenda.
“I think it is a foregone conclusion: Anwar is going to be found guilty. PKR will certainly go to town on the issue, but PAS and DAP will not be too excited about turning the Pakatan agenda into a ‘free Anwar campaign’.
“Ultimately, there is a bigger fish to fry and that would be to focus on the coming general election,” he told FMT in an exclusive interview.
He said that the second sodomy trial “came and went as a non-event”, unlike the 1999 trial.
“In 1999, there was the ‘black eye’ issue and the high exposure of the trial: hence the public awareness regarding the flaws in the trial. This time around, not many people followed the trial or were even concerned about the trial,” he said.
He said that the jailing of Anwar this time around would not garner extra votes for the opposition.
Anwaristas and the PKR leadership will definitely take umbrage at Raja Petra’s frank opinion on the matter, but the popular blogger said even the reaction of the PKR supporters against the verdict would settle down quietly.
“For a while, PKR will rant and rave. Then the excitement will tone down and people will get on with their lives.
“Umno, meanwhile, will just sit back and watch. If the Anwaristas get out of hand and try to turn the event into a ‘Malaysian Spring’, the government will just round them up and silence them.
“The government is ready for the attempt to turn Jan 9 into a Malaysian Spring and they know how to handle it. It will be doomed from the start. This is not going to be Sept 20, 1998,” he said.
Why didn’t he take the stand?
Raja Petra, who is based in London, also said that while the Barisan Nasional-Umno leadership is definitely “out to get Anwar because he is a political threat”, the PKR leader was nevertheless allowed a fair trial.
“I know for a fact that the prosecutor agreed to handle the prosecution only if he was allowed to conduct a fair trial and without any political interference.”
“Therefore, I would say that Anwar was allowed a fair trial,” he said.
Raja Petra added that Anwar was also allowed more than 60 postponements throughout the trial.
“He was supposed to subpoena more than 50 witnesses to testify on his behalf, which in the end he did not and which we are not told why.
“It appears like Anwar was allowed a lot of leeway to defend himself. Why did he not take the stand to testify under oath?
“Saiful took the stand and he was vigorously cross-examined by the defence. Why did Anwar avoid doing the same?” asked Raja Petra.
“I do not think that the charges were trumped up. But I do believe that Anwar is a victim of a honey-trap. In a way it was entrapment, which in a country like the US is illegal,” he added.
New leadership needed
Raja Petra added that Anwar’s conviction could be good for PKR and Pakatan Rakyat.
“If they put Anwar in jail, then the opposition will be forced to look beyond Anwar.
“What we need is a new leadership but as long as Anwar is still around, they will be reluctant to do so,” he said.
He added that with Anwar in prison, PKR will be forced to come to terms with the need to rejuvenate the party leadership.
“There is life after Anwar, as much as many do not think so,” he added.
Anwar, who was once heir-apparent to former strongman prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has been fighting charges that he sodomised a former political aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in June 2008.
The accusations emerged shortly after Anwar led the opposition to unprecedented gains in parliamentary polls against BN that has governed the country for five decades.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court is set to make a ruling on the sodomy charge on Jan 9.
Anwar pleaded not guilty to the offence, allegedly committed at a Desa Damansara condominium unit in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008. The PKR de facto leader is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison and whipping, if found guilty under Section 377B of the Penal Code.
This is the second time he was accused of sodomy.
In 1998, Anwar lost his deputy prime minister’s post after he was charged with corruption and sodomising his family driver.
He was freed in 2004 after six years of imprisonment when the Federal Court overturned the sodomy conviction.

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