Dari: The Economist
9 Januari 2012
The end of Sodomy 2.0
Indeed, to many Malaysians the whole case seemed an unlikely re-run of earlier charges brought against Mr Anwar when he was ousted from his post as deputy prime minister in 1998—hence the moniker of Sodomy 2.0 for this case. The first time round he went to prison for six years on corruption and sodomy charges, only to be cleared of the latter by the supreme court in 2004. This time the judge ruled that the prosecution case against Mr Anwar was too flimsy for a conviction; the DNA evidence, in particular, was unreliable.
Indeed, Mr Anwar claims that all the accusations and legal suits over the past 14 years amount to nothing more than a sustained political vendetta against him by the country’s ruling party, which started after he fell out with the autocratic and long-serving prime minister Mahathir Mohammed. Once the golden boy of the United Malays National Organisation, which has ruled the country continuously since independence from the British, Mr Anwar has been demonised by his former colleagues ever since.
Malaysian politics is an unusually dirty business. But the trials of Anwar, together with the explicit sexual revelations in the press that have necessarily accompanied them in the guise of court reporting, have taxed the patience and fortitude of most Malaysians. Whatever they think of Mr Anwar personally, most Malaysians will be glad that the whole thing is finally over and hope that the trial is not followed by Sodomy III.
If the two sodomy charges really were invented by elements within the government bent on wrecking Mr Anwar’s political career, then these attempts have backfired. The first case rallied huge public sympathy for him. In Sodomy 2.0 he has been publicly vindicated, despite a widespread belief that he was going to be convicted. The government swiftly tried to spin the verdict to its advantage, claiming it shows that Malaysia has an “independent” judiciary after all, and that “the government does not hold sway over judges’ decision”. But, such is degree of public cynicism in Malaysia, few will take these statements at face value.
How will the verdict affect Malaysia’s politics? It was delivered against the background of an impending general election, and in the short term Mr Anwar’s victory will doubtless give his party and the opposition in general a much-needed boost. It might even persuade the prime minister, Najib Razak, to postpone going to the polls for a bit longer, to allow time for the political spotlight to swivel back onto his own agenda.
In the longer term, however, the verdict might not serve the opposition so well. Although Mr Anwar remains a charismatic figure and a forceful speaker, he is at 64, he is too familiar and his ideas and rhetoric have not really shifted since the mid-1990s. He has failed to groom a successor or to nurture a new generation of opposition leaders. Rather than becoming a vibrant, modernising force in politics his party has become something of a family-run affair, riven by discord and infighting. In prison, so the hard-nosed political operators say, he would have served as a useful martyr to rally the opposition. Now they are stuck with him indefinitely; a man still strong and popular enough to worry the government, but too weakened to win an election or recruit the cohorts of younger voters that they need. As a result, the more savvy, younger politicians will now be eyeing up the following election for their opportunity, not this coming one. And that’s not good for democracy in Malaysia, which is rarely in rude good health at the best of times.