COMMENT In his foreword to Mark Trowell’s latest book, ‘The Prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim - the Final Play’, Michael Kirby described the decision to substitute former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal with a conviction of the sodomy crime as an “unusual in legal process.”
“Judicial lightning could, it seems, strike twice,” the former Australian High Court judge wrote in the 24-page foreword.
Kirby is no stranger to the state of the judiciary in Malaysia. He has been following the developments in the Malaysian judiciary for at least the past two decades.
Back in 1989, when former Lord President of the Federal Courts of Malaysia Mohamed Salleh Abas published his book ‘May Day for Justice’, the 79-year-old former president of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) had also written the foreword.
Therefore, it is clear from the way he wrote and watching from Down Under, Kirby (left in photo) is deeply engaged emotionally with the current development in Malaysian judiciary.
In this latest foreword, he immediately pointed the reader to a number of other international observers who were present at the Federal Court when it sentenced Anwar to a five-year jail term in February this year, as if to say that he was not the only concerned about the miscarriage of the trial, though it was not clearly stated throughout his writing.
Among them, he said, was one distinguished former Australian judge and a commissioner of the ICJ, Elizabeth Evatt, who wrote that the court’s reversal of the acquittal as “an approach wherein the burden was on Anwar Ibrahim to prove that he had a credible defence, rather than raising reasonable doubt reasonable doubt as to the prosecution’s case.”
Kirby’s foreword, typical of a judge who is meticulous and analytical in his writing, carried a story of his personal encounters with president Nelson Mandela, which I thought were the right settings for Trowell’s second book on Anwar’s Sodomy II case.
He put it so succinctly, explaining “why the principle of open justice is so important”.
“It is why, in today’s world of global news, the commitment to open justice often demands the opportunity for outside scrutiny, lest local passions add to the dangers of miscarriage and to the risk of injustice,” Kirby argued.
Book to be launched on Monday
Trowell, the author of this 374-page book, is a Queen’s Counsel himself, a senior advocate and an expert in criminal law in Australia.
The book was written based on his own trial observance, and as pointed out by Kirby, Trowell had written it in the “generally dispassionate way expected of a neutral observer”.
The style of writing is also simple enough for ordinary people who are not in the legal profession. Trowell makes sure that he even provide a brief profile of the key players in the prosecution of the former opposition leader.
Over five years between February 2010 when the trial began at the Kuala Lumpur High Court and February 2015, when Anwar was sentenced, most people would have read about the prosecution in the news.
However, to put them together into a book is to help preserve a part of the history of this country that cannot be forgotten and make it easier for ordinary people like you and me to understand the court decision and why it was being criticised by legal eagles from around the world.
As former Bar Council president Christopher Leong (photo) puts it: “This book is a timely reminder that justice is a global concern.”
Indeed, it is! It is a book worth reading for every Malaysian who wants to understand the drama in the Sodomy II trial, including law students.
It is a book that every law library should include into its collection for the sake of enlightening their students especially since it is written by a learned and senior member of the legal fraternity.
For those who are unfamiliar with the case, Trowell has also taken the trouble to compile a list of names of the people involved in the drama from the day Anwar was charged in court to the day he was sentenced to a five-year jailing.
The book is published by Marshall-Cavendish, and will be officially launched on Sept 21 (Monday) at the Royal Selangor Club at 8PM. Trowell will be there personally to sign autograph for the books.
Other speakers include Professor Mohammad Redzuan Othman (deputy chairperson of Institut Darul Ehsan), Ambiga Sreeneevasan and Bar Council president Steven Thiru.
For reservation, please contact Nuha (mobile: 012-2477397) or Saifullah (mobile: 013-3005461).
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.