Friday, March 7, 2014

Anwar’s sodomy conviction could spell end of Najib’s reconciliation plan, says paper

MARCH 07, 2014
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's overtures to the opposition are being undermined by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's court case and certain factions in Umno. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, March 7, 2014.  Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's overtures to the opposition are being undermined by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's court case and certain factions in Umno. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, March 7, 2014.Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's political career may grind to a halt should he be convicted for sodomy but it could also see the end of the prime minister's National Reconciliation Plan, the Edge Review reported today.
Anwar's conviction could spell the end of National Reconciliation Plan, which was meant to ease rising political, racial and religious tensions in the country and shore up Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s position.
Senior Umno members have said that Najib's approach to the opposition in line with his plan had resulted in a growing uneasiness in the party.
Home Minister Datuk Ser Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, it said, had been leading talks with key opposition leaders since mid-2013 and negotiations have reportedly been progressing well.
However, factions in Umno aligned to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin have opposed the reconciliation talks. "Should Anwar be convicted, any reconciliation plan will be thrown out of the window. Najib won’t have the buffer of the unity talks as political insurance,” a senior PKR leader was quoted as saying.
The Court of Appeal is expected to reveal its decision on Putrajaya's application to overturn Anwar's 2012 High Court acquittal on charges of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan today.
Lawyers and the opposition leader were said to expect a guilty verdict, The Edge Review reported today.
This decision would automatically disqualify Anwar from contesting the upcoming Kajang by-election at the end of the month.
PKR had crafted a plan which would eventually see Anwar appointed as the Selangor menteri besar if he won in Kajang, which the opposition was almost certain to win by a great margin.
The Edge Review reported that Putrajaya was expected to "rush the case" to the Federal Court in the next six months, for a concrete conviction that could leave Anwar spending not more than 20 years behind bars, ousting the loose opposition coalition of its "only unifying force".
"There is no denying that the case carries serious implications from the ‘Kajang move’ to how the opposition pushes ahead," PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution was quoted as saying.
It was reported earlier today that the party's strategic director Rafizi Ramli, who is also architect of the "Kajang move", would be the likely choice to replace Anwar should he be disqualified from running in Kajang.
However, Anwar was reported to be confident that the court will rule in favour of him.
"They have thrown everything at me and nothing works, because what Malaysians are fighting for isn’t just about me, but all that is wrong with the system. It backfired before and will backfire again," the PKR de facto leader told The Edge Review.

He was referring to the six years in jail for his first sodomy charge. The sodomy verdict was partially overturned in 2004, resulting in Anwar's release from prison.
It was only in 2008 that Anwar returned to politics after being at the sidelines for five years. In that year's general election, Anwar led the opposition coalition of PKR, DAP and PAS to the biggest victory the opposition has ever seen in Malaysian history.
The ruling coalition Barisan Nasional lost its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament and a record five states fell to the opposition, including Selangor.
BN's numbers did not improve five years later in the 2013 general election under Najib, which also saw it lose the popular vote, obtaining 47% compared with the opposition's 51%. Najib's leadership is being blamed for BN's dwindling support by his own party members.
“The rising cost of living is a key concern and the feeling on the ground is that Najib and the government aren’t doing anything to deal with the pain," The Edge Review quoted a veteran Umno member and former minister as saying.
The government's efforts to silence Anwar with his sodomy conviction could backfire on them, said a political analyst.
"Anwar’s jailing will be seen as a purely political move and in this environment, the government will take an immediate hit on the popularity front," Merdeka Center's Ibrahim Suffian said.
The independence of the country's judiciary from politics would also be scrutinised, a lawyer said.
"The government’s ongoing saga with Anwar always features the courts. This won’t go away until Malaysia learns that political problems need to be fixed through the political system," a senior constitutional lawyer told The Edge Review. – March 7, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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