Mahathir Undaunted by an Anwar Comeback
Manila Times (AFP), October 6, 2004
FORMER Malaysian leader Mahathir
Mohamad on Tuesday played down the chances of a political comeback by his
ex-protégé-turned rival Anwar Ibrahim, who was freed last month after six
years in jail on corruption charges.
Speaking before a business conference in Manila, Mahathir
said that Anwar’s acquittal on appeal against a sodomy conviction was merely
on a technicality and the courts had not specifically cleared him of charges
of homosexuality—a crime in mainly Muslim Malaysia.
“The acquittal was on very flimsy ground. We are not
worried by him,” Mahathir said, adding that the police who handled the case
apparently made a mistake on the date that the supposed crime was committed.
“The acquittal does not mean he did not commit this.”
He said that under Malaysian law, Anwar would not be
allowed to stand for any elective or party post for five years.
“He would have the support outside the country, but
outside the country, they are not our constituents,” the former Malaysian
Anwar had already been barred from rejoining the
all-powerful United Malays National Organization (UMNO) at a party congress
Anwar was largely expected to become Malaysia’s prime
minister until he had a falling out with Mahathir in 1998. He was replaced by
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who this year succeeded Mahathir as prime minister.
Malaysia’s Federal Court last month overturned
Anwar’s conviction and nine-year sentence for sodomy. But the same court
rejected an appeal to further review his corruption conviction, which accused
him of abusing power to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct.
The decision meant any political comeback would have to
be delayed until 2008 under regulations governing convicted criminals.
In an interview with AFP last month in Munich where he
was seeking medical treatment for spinal problems, Anwar said he has made no
commitment to join any political party but is likely to play a role in a
multiparty alliance, probably in opposition.
He said he wanted to reform the Malaysian government from
what he called corruption and bigotry of its past.
Anwar said he wanted to improve the country’s
democracy, encourage a more independent judiciary and make more positive
economic changes that would generate faster growth and inject new political
[Home] [World] [Malaysia]