New Sunday Times
July 27, 2008 (Sunday)
By Tunku Abdul Aziz
(The writer is a former special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general on ethics)
IT seems to me that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is suffering from paranoid delusions. His preoccupation with what he sees as political conspiracy against him is doing his reputation and credibility, such as it is, enormous damage.
To compound the growing cynicism about his version of events, he has not, to date, been able to produce any verifiable evidence to support his contention. As far as I am concerned, and for all practical purposes, his claim of victimisation at the evil hands of the authorities is just so much political posturing, and has to be viewed, sadly, as a ploy to gain sympathy for his cause and confuse the gullible in our midst. And there are many who see a conspirator in every nook and corner, in much the same way that Americans, at the height of McCarthyism, looked under the bed before retiring for the night, half expecting to find a communist lurking there.
While Anwar expects the highest standards of proof in others, he is somehow both careless and cavalier about his own. He has made the preposterous accusation that the charge of sodomy brought against him by his former aide is part of a diabolically clever plot to stop his prime ministerial ambitions dead in their tracks.
That, too, must remain a matter for conjecture unless it can be proved otherwise. Many Malaysians await Anwar's irrefutable evidence with bated breath. Does he not realise that many people can, and will, draw their own conclusions about the real reason behind his persistent refusal to give his blood for the purpose of a DNA test?
Let us get that over and done with so that the police can make a quick determination as to whether or not he had been maliciously accused of something he is innocent of. Readers will no doubt recall that when he was in custody 10 years ago, he accused the authorities of administering arsenic to poison him. All very dramatic, and the world was understandably aghast and shocked by that revelation. Independent tests done in Australia, however, proved negative.
Anwar showed absolutely no remorse about his having blackened his country's good name and reputation. On the premise that there is one law for all, no one should reasonably expect normal police criminal investigation procedures to be set aside or compromised on the spurious ground of a lack of trust in the police. What is the evidence for this? Anwar, for all his political savvy, now runs the risk of being likened to "the boy who cried wolf" -- once too often.
He should submit himself voluntarily to the DNA test, and if need be, under an independent expert observer group if this would help. The police have been more accommodating in his case than I have seen in some others. And if he is innocent of the charge against him, there is "nothing to fear, but fear itself".
Conspiracy or no, even Anwar must know that the devil is in the detail: how does he propose to seize power except by resorting to unprincipled political machinations and manipulations? He has to show that he has not totally abandoned his moral and ethical principles and this is the only way that he will ever recover the moral and intellectual high ground that he once occupied.
The moral support of right thinking people everywhere that he could at one time take for granted is beginning to wear thin. What has happened to the mass exodus to his camp of ethically deficient political malcontents from The Land Below The Wind, across the South China Sea, that he predicted with an almost messianic zeal and prophetic certainty to help him topple the government and transform the nation? He has done our Sabah politicians grave injury to their reputation.
They have proved that they stand by certain personal values and standards of ethical behaviour. I cannot imagine anything baser and more grotesque than attempting to corrupt and seduce perfectly decent and honourable parliamentarians to betray the trust of the voters who had put them there in the first place to represent them in their constituencies.
What kind of message is Anwar sending to the people of this country, and in particular to the young people now beginning to take an interest in political issues? Dislodge the government by all means, if this is your purpose in life, but there is a time and place as provided under our electoral process. The place is the ballot box, and the time is the 13th general election. This is all part of our democratic system and what business have any of us to bring about a change of administration outside of the legal electoral framework?
I am well aware of the opposition song-and-dance about what they claim to be a defective electoral system before every election. But this constant refrain about the unfairness of it all is muted, now that the same defective process that they used to vent their spleen on with demonic vehemence has catapulted them into power in five states.
I suppose even they must now admit that it has not been that bad, after all, for those who were not expected to pick more than a few crumbs off the floor. Anwar has made great play of his having to remove his clothes for his medical examination and implied that he was being singled out for special treatment. I am assured by my doctor friends that it is normal procedure for certain types of examination.
Many of us have been through this and we were none the worse for wear. In my own case, on my visit to Israel two years ago, I was asked very politely to remove all my clothes by airport security. More than at any time in my entire life, faced with the prospect of having to bare all, and not even paid for it in front of total strangers, I remembered my mother, thinking how right she had been to remind my brother and I always to wear clean underpants! Like Anwar, I did not like the strip act one little bit, but unlike him, I did not kick up a fuss and neither did I call a press conference to denounce this "barbaric" practice against a senior United Nations official which was what I was at the time.
If I had been gripped by paranoia, I suppose I would have seen the whole exercise as being specially devised to humiliate me, a Muslim. It was a security requirement and I respected their right to do everything possible in the interests of their country's security. Anwar should desist from involving the international community in what is essentially a simple case. He somehow feels that the United States, the European Union and Japan should fight a proxy war against his country to shield him from the due process of law of his country.
I do not claim, naturally, to speak for other Malaysians, but there are people I know personally who are beginning to suspect his motives. It is poetic justice. We must all take responsibility for our actions, and if we feel that we have been defamed or otherwise unfairly accused, we should place ourselves in the hands and at the mercy of the courts.
Anwar should submit himself to the country's criminal justice system like the rest of his fellow Malaysians and lead by example. He is, after all, according to his supporters, a prime minister-in-waiting. I hope they are not holding their breath. We are all getting a little sick and tired of the "Anwar factor" that is turning out to be an absolutely unnecessary distraction at a time when we need to get on with our lives.