COMMENT A total of eight, very learned and just men and women sitting as adjudicators in two of the highest and most noble Houses of Justice in this fair land of ours, have seen fit to unanimously decree that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is indeed guilty of sodomising one Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
Despite protestations of innocence, prosecutorial impropriety and political conspiracy, we are theoretically obliged to accept this overwhelming conclusion without question and carry on with our lives, whilst Anwar - of course - repays his debt to society by being entertained as a reluctant guest at one of His Majesty’s gaols for the next five years.
No doubt, credit for this successful prosecution has to go to the ‘fiated’ public prosecutor for his legal prowess in convincing three appellate judges and five from the Federal Court that the state was possessed of sufficient evidence to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Anwar had indeed partaken in carnal knowledge against the order of nature with one Saiful Bukhari, an innocent and unsuspecting victim of Anwar’s deviant, yet geriatric, sexual advances.
This unenviable task was achieved despite all legal odds being stacked against the prosecution.
Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, in a brilliant display of his legendary oratorical prowess, was able to overcome the formidable hurdle of reversing an acquittal, proclaimed after a lengthy trial at the High Court.
His powers of prosecutorial persuasion succeeded where those of the ordinary public prosecutor failed miserably.
That is where the attorney-general’s fiat and the entire matter ought to have been laid to rest, in a dignified and honourable manner worthy of any respectable prosecutor - let alone a senior member of the Malayan Bar.
Walking away gracefully from a job well done may have lent some degree of credibility to the novel circumstances surrounding Shafee’s appointment as ‘prosecutor extraordinaire’ on behalf of the attorney-general.
But the current behaviour of that illustrious prosecutor - which began immediately following the upholding, sanctioning, signing, sealing and delivery of Anwar’s conviction and incarceration by the Federal Court - is rather strange, let alone unprecedented.
Many question the reason why Shafee feels he needs to embellish and justify the findings made by the Federal Court.
Surely the in-depth thought process of five eminently trained legal minds - reflected in an equally painstakingly and lengthy written judgment - ought to suffice without having to be propped up by what can only be described as “a mobile rhetorical circus”.
Self-appointed 'public relations managers'
Many are asking themselves why it is necessary for Shafee and his new found sidekick, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, to embark on a nationwide ‘roadshow’ to explain in gory and sordid detail, the in-camera evidence given by Saiful at the High Court stage and the reasons why they both feel Anwar had been rightly convicted.
Are these two gentlemen acting as self-appointed 'public relations managers' for the Federal Court? If not, why do they think the decision of the Federal Court needs to be explained to all and sundry in pornographic detail? Would it not be a little more appropriate to merely hand out copies of that Federal Court judgment?
What is even more mystifying is why Shafee appears to be blatantly spearheading an obvious Umno roadshow. Was Anwar not criticised for suggesting this entire prosecution had been a political conspiracy orchestrated by Umno to end his political career, right from the beginning?
Has this accusation now been proved to be correct?
To sum up the situation: A government-controlled Attorney-General’s Chambers appoints a well-known Umno lawyer to take over its role as public prosecutor, only in so far as the appeal against Anwar’s sodomy acquittal is concerned. This political appointee then succeeds in persuading the Court of Appeal to reverse the High Court acquittal and substitute it with a conviction instead.
This same Umno lawyer fights tooth and nail in the Federal Court to ensure the conviction is maintained, and further indicates that the state feels the sentence imposed earlier was insufficient and ought to be enhanced.
Once all this has been finally achieved, this Umno prosecutor - whose job has now ended - personally resorts to a massive nationwide advertising campaign in cohorts with the rather flamboyant youth and sports minister, on behalf of the Umno government, in an attempt to justify Anwar’s conviction to the masses.
Bearing all this in mind, we are urged to believe that Anwar’s prosecution for sodomy (again) has not been politically motivated in the slightest way.
Can someone like me, the ordinary man in the street, be forgiven for thinking that Shafee’s behaviour is politically motivated and carried out at the behest of the Umno government to propagate the notion that the opposition leader is a hardened criminal and is therefore, totally unsuited to potentially leading this country forever?
Let us now turn to the hypocrisy of the entire ironical situation.
Anwar has been found guilty of sodomising Saiful in a mutually consensual manner. This means the law frowns on his alleged propensity to engage in carnal knowledge against the order of nature (whatever that means).
Discriminatory law against homosexuals
This same law (rather presumptuously) says nature has decreed that the only sexual intercourse permitted between two human beings has to be heterosexual, and is to be further confined to one specific female bodily orifice only.
This law rather unfortunately discriminates against homosexuals - who are human beings too, by the way. They are, and will continue to be, created by the same God who designed Shafee and Khairy.
But, this specific law imposes a further sanction not many of us are aware of.
It says you are to be found guilty of the same offence Anwar was convicted of, if you indulge in oral sex.
So, full-blooded heterosexual men are just as capable of offending the provisions of this section as are homosexuals.
Shafee and Khairy, before you start casting first stones indiscriminately, don’t you think both of you ought to be conducting a little personal soul-searching instead?
I don’t think it would ever cross any reasonable heterosexual’s mind to condemn his fellow heterosexual to a five-year jail sentence for enjoying what is colloquially referred to as a “blow job”.
It would therefore appear that this archaic and outdated penal restriction has been preserved in our statute books for the primary purpose of stifling the opposition. This supposition finds traction in the almost complete absence of legitimate prosecutions of anyone else besides Anwar for this particular offence.
Perhaps it may lend credence to your campaign to prolong the vilification of Anwar by swearing on your chosen holy book that both you and Khairy have never, ever committed an offence under section 377A of the Penal Code.
If you are prepared to do this, then you may possibly have the moral and legitimate high ground to continue your campaign.
If not, it may be good advice to just shut up and go home with your tails between your legs, after - of course - making the necessary apologies and repenting profusely for your indiscretions.
AMERICK SIDHU is the lawyer who represented the late private investigator P Balasubramaniam.