Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has appealed to the international community to help free him from jail and also prevent Malaysia from becoming a failed state.
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Anwar says the world is not doing enough, and appeals for concrete measures to censure Prime Minister Najib Razak and his administration.
On Wednesday, Anwar made a last attempt at freedom through the legal process by appealing to the Federal Court. The five-member panel has reserved judgment on his appeal to reverse his imprisonment on a charge of sodomy.
Datelined ‘Sungai Buloh Prison, Malaysia’, the opinion piece states that his imprisonment is politically motivated.
His final appeal, Anwar says, is probably the final opportunity for Najib “and the judiciary he cynically controls” to set Malaysia again on a path of restoring its much tainted reputation on the global stage.
“But without the support of the international community and President (Barack) Obama’s help, my fate is pre-determined.”
The former deputy prime minister says he is grateful for the strong support of the United Nations, and organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for concluding that he has been illegally detained and calling for his release.
“Although this has been particularly hard on my family, I am most worried about the unprecedented existential threat to Malaysia’s democracy and stability.
“We are at a crossroads where we can either emerge as a pluralistic democracy in Asia and in the Muslim world or where our nation will implode from grand corruption and different religious and ethnic groups being pitted against each other fighting for limited resources.”
Anwar goes on to say that Najib’s “overreach” is even bringing his former political foes from the ruling party, “including my political benefactor and later jailer Mahathir Mohamed”, to defect to the Opposition.
Anwar adds: “But most democracies around the world have remained totally silent, and none have taken concrete measures to censure Najib and his government before the damage done by their corruption and authoritarianism is irreversible.”
He goes on to say how the Opposition, led by him, had secured 48 per cent of the popular vote in the 2008 general election. This not only shocked the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition but spooked it enough to charge him for “crimes that I did not commit”.
“So when our opposition coalition won 52 per cent of the popular vote in the 2013 elections, Najib could not allow me to remain free. I was finally imprisoned by his judiciary last year. “
He claims his imprisonment is to stop the opposition coalition “from bringing together our diverse peoples to achieve a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Malaysia”.
“To maintain his grip on power, Najib has imposed severe restrictions on public protest, imprisoned countless people for exercising their basic rights of freedom of expression, and maintained almost total domination of the media.
“This government has also stoked enmity between ethnic Malay Muslims on one hand, and ethnic Chinese and Indians of Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu religious affiliations on the other.”
Anwar says the results of the last general election demonstrated the thirst of the Malaysian people for fundamental reform of key institutions and for genuine democracy and the rule of law.
He charges that to hold on to power indefinitely, Najib’s government has adopted various measures, including new repressive legislation and “a recent attempt by its submissive Election Commission to guarantee minority rule indefinitely through newly-proposed extreme gerrymandered districts”.
“Left unchecked,” Anwar concludes, “this will pave the way for unbridled corruption, religious extremism, and inter-communal violence.”
Saying a critical mass of Malaysians want democracy, he adds: “Malaysians who want to hold Prime Minister Najib and the Malaysian Government to account for their misdeeds and bring about change for the better need meaningful support from the international community.”
FMT Reporters Online