Anwar Ibrahim and a campaign of political vilification in Malaysia

The original Wikipedia Commons caption reads (more or less): "Thousands of Malaysians dressed in mourning black gathered in Kuala Lumpur on May 8, 2013 to denounce national elections that they claim were stolen through fraud by the coalition that has ruled for 56 years." Firdaus Latif is the photographer.

Malaysians protested in Kuala Lumpur on May 8, 2013, against national elections they claim were stolen through fraud by the coalition that has ruled for 56 years. Photo by Firdaus Latif, Wikipedia.

Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim is showing signs of eccentricity and paranoia, notes International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. It’s not surprising — but it is also true that he will have wrought real change. An excerpt of Manthorpe’s new column, Co-opted judiciary sentences Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim to 5 years:

Two of the most prominent finance ministers of modern times were in court this week on sex charges, which may seem like a thesis on the relationship between power, money and priapism just waiting to be written.

But there are profound differences between the case of Malaysia’s former finance minister and deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and the former head of the International Monetary Fund and a finance minister of France in the late 1990s, Dominque Strauss-Kahn.

Whether his actions turn out to be criminal or not, Strauss-Kahn seems to have been entirely the author of his own downfall. Rationing himself to four orgies a year and forcing his attentions on hotel maids are not the actions of a rational public servant.

On the other hand, the sentencing on Tuesday of Anwar to five years in prison after his conviction for sodomy is yet another milestone in an extraordinary and sustained misuse of the courts in a campaign of political vilification.

In the end, what happens to Strauss-Khan is neither here nor there: a matter of no significant public importance. But the public reaction to the imprisoning of Anwar is another question. … log in to continue reading Co-opted judiciary sentences Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim to 5 years (subscription required*)

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