Anwar Ibrahim’s second trial, Sodomy II, will hinge on the testimony of Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a 24-year-old former Anwar staffer.
Saiful has been willing to put himself through a public discussion of every single detail of his alleged sodomy by Anwar, a former Deputy Prime Minister and current leader of the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat.
Inconsistencies of testimony and evidence have re-opened a discussion central to Malaysia’s claim to be a democracy: How is evidence gathered and marshalled by the police and courts?
Last Friday, a group of fifty Australian Members of Parliament, led by Michael Danby, the Labor member for Melbourne Ports, joined the discussion.
Danby wrote a letter to the Malaysian High Commissioner, Dato’ Salman Ahmad, highlighting a recent Wall Street Journal article by Munawar Anees, Anwar’s former speechwriter and one of two men he was accused of sodomising in 1997. Munawar maintains that his testimony to having been sodomised by Anwar was extracted through torture in a police cell, where he spent 126 days.
Danby’s letter warned that Malaysia’s reputation would be harmed by Sodomy II, and expressed disbelief that the same charge could be used against Anwar so soon after Pakatan’s unprecedented election gains in 2008.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has offered to explain the situation to Danby and his colleagues. Will these answers be convincing?
Danby’s speech is available here, and Munawar’s statutory declaration, outlining his allegations of police abuse, is available here.
For those who read Malay, Shanon Shah has a hilarious spoof of Sodomy II in The Nut Graph.