Likely Terror Attack
A British soldier was hacked to death by two men shouting Islamic slogans in a south London street on Wednesday, in what the government said appeared to be a terrorist attack. Full Article
INTERVIEW - Malaysia's Anwar "better prepared" for trial
KUALA LUMPUR |
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim, facing trial next month on what he claims are politically motivated charges of sodomy, said the country's opposition will be able to survive without him in the event of his conviction.
The former deputy premier, whose sacking in 1998 on corruption and sodomy charges at the height of the Asian economic crisis led to massive street protests, said he was more prepared for his coming trial than the first time round.
"If their intention is to convict me by hook or by crook, then it’s going to be messy, I'm not going to take it hands down, and we are better prepared this time around," Anwar told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
Sodomy is a criminal offence in Malaysia carrying a maximum 20-year prison term and a second conviction would effectively end the political career of the 61-year old who has the best chance of ousting the government that has ruled Malaysia for 51 years.
Anwar was released from prison in 2004 after Malaysia's top court set aside his sodomy conviction and nine year jail sentence, although the corruption sentence stood.
His trial, in which he is accused of sodomising his former aide comes amid a global economic crisis in which the economy of this export-oriented Southeast Asian country set to contract by up to 5 percent this year, according to the government.
Investment capital has fled Malaysia since the March 2008 elections in which the National Front government recorded its worst ever result, with official data showing that the capital and financial account showed an outflow of 123 billion Malaysian ringgit ($34.92 billion) in 2008.
Malaysia is also set to post its biggest budget deficit for 22 years this year at 7.6 percent of gross domestic product and as a result bond yields have climbed and stand 100 basis points wider than neighbouring Thailand .
Political analysts say that the conduct and outcome of the trial, scheduled for July 1-24, is a potential source of political risk for new premier Najib Razak, who is trying to open up the economy to attract more foreign investment.
Najib, who took office in early April, has to turn around the ruling National Front Alliance by the time of polls due by 2013.
The new case has attracted international criticism already, with the U.S. State Department expressing concern over the handling of the investigation, although the Malaysian government has assured observers that Anwar will get fair treatment.
Anwar however said he would face essentially the same judicial system that he said convicted him wrongly in 2000.
"I would concede that in the last few years there have been cases where judges have taken some surprisingly bold independent decisions, but these are on the fringes of the judicial fraternity and not the norm," said Anwar.
Despite a recent bout of infighting in his three party alliance of Islamists, ethnic Chinese and reformers, Anwar said that the opposition would remain united and that a plan to provide leadership for the People's Alliance would be in place by the end of the month in the event of his conviction.
Several options being mulled include a rotational chairmanship of the Alliance between his progressive People's Justice Party (PKR), the mainly ethnic Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS).
Anwar said that former law minister Zaid Ibrahim, a reformer who quit the government and joined PKR earlier this month and who has been tipped as a potential successor, would be given a "prominent role", though he did not elaborate.
Anwar said that he supported Najib's moves to try and liberalise the economy but said that the process was deeply flawed as Najib and the main ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party had failed to reform.
"But he also has this huge fallout in terms of having to fall back on the obsolete ways of governance - lack of transparency, handing out massive contracts to cronies and UMNO leaders without tenders, so at every stage you compromise your position," he said.
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this