Last edited: September 06, 2004

Anwar Arrives in Germany for Back Surgery

The Straits Times, September 5, 2004

MUNICH, Germany (Associated Press)—Former Malaysian deputy leader Anwar Ibrahim arrived in Germany on Sunday for back surgery, days after being released from six years in prison.

Anwar, his family and several aides headed straight from the airport to a private Munich clinic where he will be operated on for an injury due in part to a police beating six years ago.

‘I’m fine, I’m fine,’ Anwar told reporters after arriving from Malaysia by plane via Frankfurt. ‘I’m happy to be here. It’s a different world from what I had in the last six years.”

Anwar was expected to undergo minimally invasive endoscopic surgery on Monday and stay up to several weeks in Germany to recover.

In 2000, Anwar was examined in Malaysia by the Alpha Klinik’s Dr. Thomas Hoogland. Authorities refused to let him leave prison and travel to Germany for surgery, fearing he would not return.

On Sunday, Anwar said he would be meeting with Dr Hoogland to discuss details of the upcoming surgery.

He was freed from prison on Thursday after Malaysia’s highest court, the Federal Court, overturned a sodomy conviction that he had long contended was trumped up to destroy him.

His immediate political future is at stake when the court starts hearings on Monday on whether to reconsider its earlier decision to uphold Anwar’s separate conviction for corruption.

If the appeal succeeds, Anwar will no longer be a convicted felon and would avoid the five-year ban against running for office.

At Anwar’s departure in Kuala Lumpur, several thousand supporters brought Malaysia’s main airport terminal to a standstill early on Sunday in a potent reminder of the charismatic sway he holds over the country.

The crowds overwhelmed airport security as they surged toward Anwar’s gold-colored Mercedes-Benz when he arrived for the Malaysian Airlines flight to Germany.

‘I hope to come back stronger to continue my struggle,’ Anwar told reporters at Kuala Lumpur airport.

Anwar was arrested in 1998 after leading street protests to demand the ouster of his one-time mentor, then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and to call for democratic reforms.

He had groomed Anwar as his successor but had fired him as his deputy two weeks earlier in a power struggle.

After his initial arrest on national security grounds, Anwar was charged and convicted of corruption and sodomy and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

[Home] [World] [Malaysia]