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Mahathir Mohamed: The case of Anwar Ibrahim [in jail] and Dr. Munawar Anees

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  • Tarek Fatah
    Friends, I recently distributed an appeal for signatories to a letter by Malaysian academics urging Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed to not jail dissidents,
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2003
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      I recently distributed an appeal for signatories to a letter by Malaysian
      academics urging Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed to not jail dissidents,
      arguing that "progressive Islam will not be born behind bars." This petition
      can be seen at: http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/200305280034508.php

      Responding to my appeal, a reader brought to my attention the case of Dr.
      Munawar Anees, who suffered at the hands of the Malaysian secret police.

      Here is his side of the story.

      Dr. Munawar Anees was a former advisor and speechwriter for Malaysian Deputy
      Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. In September 1998, Anees was arrested and
      later convicted of allowing Anwar to sodomize him. (Sodomy is a crime in
      Malaysia.) Although Anees at first confessed to being sodomized by Anwar, he
      later recanted his confession, saying that police had coerced him. He was
      released in January 1999 after Amnesty International featured him as a
      prisoner of conscience and the writer’s group International PEN adopted him
      as a writer in prison.

      In the essay below, Anees criticizes Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed for
      refusing to testify in Anwar’s sodomy trial. Anwar’s attorneys accused
      Mahathir of plotting to ruin him in 1998 when Anwar became too popular. They
      demanded that the prime minister answer questions about an alleged political
      conspiracy against their client.

      April 11, 2000

      The miscreant strikes again
      by Dr. Munawar A. Anees

      Mahathir bin Mohamed Iskandar filed an affidavit on April 4, 2000, in Kuala
      Lumpur High Court stating that he does not want to be a witness in the
      ongoing trial of Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance
      Minister of Malaysia.

      Not a single argument put forward by Mahathir is valid, credible, or
      relevant to his official and moral obligation to tell the truth in a court
      of law about the tall claims on “proof” of sexual misconduct he has been
      making since hatching a botchy conspiracy to ruin the political career of my
      long-time friend, Anwar Ibrahim.

      Once again, this misleader of Malaysia has shown his extraordinary flair for
      debauchery. He has left no doubt that his incredibly long grip on power is
      perpetuated through outright lies, deceit, manipulation of executive
      privilege, blackmail, bribery, police brutality and torture, cock-and-bull
      media, and an amazingly compliant judiciary.

      This senile despot needs to be given a stern reminder that on September 14,
      1998, thugs from the Special Branch of the Malaysian police raided my house.
      In front of my wailing, weeping, wife those savages kidnapped me to keep me
      as a shackled hostage in their unknown and known dungeons for the next 126

      The world came to know of my disappearance, under the conspiracy
      orchestrated by Mahathir, only after Amnesty International declared me a
      prisoner of conscience. Later, International PEN adopted me as a writer in

      The subservient Malaysian media either stayed mum or spread ingrained
      disinformation on my whereabouts. My wife was constantly misled with threats
      and harassment and her attempts to engage a lawyer on my behalf were
      frustrated by the police.

      The assault that took place on that Monday morning was after direct orders
      issued by Mahathir in his capacity as Home Minister enforcing the draconian
      Internal Security Act. I, therefore, hold him personally responsible for
      that heinous crime against me and my family. No camouflage under any
      constitutional, legal or journalistic parlance will ever exonerate him of
      inflicting the trauma that my family and I continue to endure consequent to
      his deliberate crime that led to my abduction.

      “The world came to know of my disappearance, under the conspiracy
      orchestrated by Mahathir, only after Amnesty International declared me a
      Prisoner of Conscience.”
      My prolonged detention by Mahathir’s hoodlums taught me how it feels to be
      forcibly separated from one’s wife and children. How it feels to be searched
      and seized, disallowed to make phone calls, handcuffed, blindfolded,
      stripped naked, driven in an animal cage, shaven bald, endlessly
      interrogated, humiliated, drugged, deprived of sleep, physically abused.
      What it’s like to be threatened, blackmailed, tormented by police lawyers,
      brutalized to make a totally false confession, hospitalized for a consequent
      heart ailment, and treated as a psychiatric patient with symptoms of
      Stockholm syndrome.

      Barely surviving on a meager diet of rancid rice and chicken along with 12
      medicines a day, I spent nearly four months handcuffed around the clock to
      my hospital bed, under the watchful eyes of the prison guards.

      Thereafter, my ability to speak, read and write took a considerable time to
      show signs of recovery. Short-term memory lapses were frequent. I existed in
      a fluid state in which suicidal tendencies, depression and despair were
      punctuated by fits of rage and indignation.

      In collusion with the lawyer appointed on my behalf by the police, the
      Malaysian authorities refused the legal assistance of my choice, coercing me
      not to mount an appeal against the court verdict and threatening me with
      greater punishment under new charges if I did not cooperate.

      “I spent nearly four months handcuffed around the clock to my hospital bed,
      under the watchful eyes of the prison guards.”
      Simultaneously, my wife constantly endured police harassment, wiretapping,
      and disruption of our e-mail and bank accounts. Some of our friends were met
      with the same fate and were compelled to abandon us when we needed them

      While this brutality against me and my family was being precisely
      coordinated by the police, the media, and the judiciary in their respective
      roles, Mahathir had the audacity to delude everyone with his fraudulent
      statement that he had “incontrovertible proof, that it (the allegation of
      sodomy) is true...Other people cannot very well get the information I got.”
      (The Straits Times, Singapore, September 23, 1998)

      If Mahathir has the “incontrovertible proof” then why is he keeping it close
      to his chest? Why does not he come out in the open? But Mahathir knows that
      the “truth” was manufactured in his laboratory of crime and corruption where
      innocent people like me were targeted, tortured, and coerced into making
      totally false confessions. That is what he means by saying that “Other
      people cannot very well get the information I got.” And that perhaps is the
      only truth he has ever spoken.

      If Mahathir is not involved in this vicious criminal conspiracy then what
      explains my abduction? Why did Mahathir send his police thugs to kidnap me?
      Why my abductors committed those inhuman acts against me and my family? Why
      the police appointed a lawyer for me while preventing my wife from seeking
      legal assistance?

      Why the Special Branch “Dato” pleaded to me that “Anwar was a threat to
      Malaysia and they were trying to get rid of him?” Why SAC II Musa Hassan
      himself conveyed his satisfaction to me inside the police headquarters night
      before the sham court proceedings? Why a kangaroo court pronounced a verdict
      within thirty minutes of my forced appearance? Why, after the court, DSP
      Mazlan Mansoor conveyed to me a “congratulatory” message from the then
      Inspector General of Police, Rahim Noor, now himself a convicted criminal?

      Why the police thugs, accompanied by the police lawyer, continued to force
      me not to file an appeal? Why the media continued to confuse the issue of my
      appeal with planted stories? Why were there several attempts to again kidnap
      me from the hospital to the police dungeon called Bukit Aman? Why was my
      family a target of police harassment while I was chained to my hospital bed?
      Why my appeal to set aside the fake “conviction” and “sentence” remains in
      cold storage as a victim of legal intrigue?

      My Statutory Declaration is a public record of criminal indictment of
      Mahathir, his government, his police, his media, and his spineless judiciary
      . If Mahathir is not the mastermind behind the conspiracy to topple Anwar
      Ibrahim then why has he remained silent over my Declaration, given the fact
      that he has the “incontrovertible proof?” What explains the reluctance of
      his administration to take legal and punitive action against my abductors?

      Mahathir’s desperate attempt to avoid a court appearance in Anwar Ibrahim’s
      trial is markedly contradictory to several of his public statements. He
      stands exposed before the world and those who colluded with him in
      perpetrating the crimes of abduction, torture, blackmail, harassment,
      fabricated evidence, perjury, psychological trauma, and slander against me,
      Anwar Ibrahim, and our families.

      When the convict Rahim Noor made a near-deadly assault on a blindfolded and
      handcuffed Anwar Ibrahim, Mahathir termed it as a self-inflicted injury. And
      the father of all toadies in the Malaysian media, Kadir Jasin, (former
      editor of the much maligned daily New Straits Times), wasted no time in
      attributing Anwar’s black eye to a meteorite hitting his prison cell.

      It is obvious that no court in Malaysia, despite the sanctimonious claim,
      has shown any moral or legal mettle to bring Mahathir and his
      co-conspirators from his own administration, the police, the judiciary and
      the media to justice. Apart from handing down a totally unjust and hasty
      verdict in my name while I was held hostage by the police thugs, these
      courts have cited at least two lawyers of Anwar Ibrahim for contempt.

      It is not a coincident that a report released this week of a mission on
      behalf of the four major international legal organizations (International
      Bar Association, the ICJ Center for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers,
      the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association and the Union Internationale des
      Avocats) has concluded that, “there are well-founded grounds for concern as
      to the proper administration of justice in Malaysia in cases which are of
      particular interest, for whatever reason, to the government. Plainly, this
      is only a small proportion of the total number of cases which arise, but
      they are of vital importance to the well-being of the entire system of
      justice in Malaysia.

      The central problem appears to lie in the actions of the various branches of
      an extremely powerful executive, which has not acted with due regard for the
      other essential elements of a free and democratic society based on the just
      rule of law,” (Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000, page 77).

      The crimes of Mahathir and his coconspirators must not go unpunished. These
      felons must be brought to face a world court for their crimes against
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