The Anwar Report

An independent legal view of the criminal case against Anwar Ibrahim

The Government of Malaysia under the leadership of Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad appears to be directing a public relations exercise to convince Malaysians and the international community that the Malaysian judiciary is independent and should be able to make its decision freely in the criminal case against Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. On October 16, 1998, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is reported to have said in the New Straits Times:

"No one should question the independence of the Malaysian judiciary and its ability to make decisions freely because it has proven that it is not beholden to the Government"

It is sad to say that the history of the Malaysian judiciary during the Mahathir regime is such that no one has ever been successful in the Malaysian Courts either as the plaintiff or the defendant (in civil suits) or accused (in a criminal case brought by the State), once Mahathir has branded that person as his enemy or political rival or nuisance to his grand scheme of things. This is evident from the following cases. Mahathir and the Mahathir Government have won all these fights in the Courts.

  • Lim Kit Siang's suit against United Engineers Bhd & Dr Mahathir;
  • Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah's action against UMNO Baru;
  • Salleh Abas's fight against dismissal as the Lord President;
  • The Non-Governmental Organisations' challenge of the massive Bakun project in Sarawak on environmental grounds; and
  • The Sedition Act and Printing Presses Act charges against Lim Guan Eng.

On the other hand, a politician who is close to the heart of Dr Mahathir, Rahim Tamby Chik - the former Chief Minister of Malacca had criminal charges for statutory rape against him conveniently withdrawn by the Attorney-General. In the Lim Guan Eng High Court trial , the then 15 year old girl involved gave evidence on oath ( at the age of 17+ ) that she had sex with Rahim.

For the Malaysian judiciary, a critical watershed is 1988. Before that the judiciary could be characterised as politically conservative but reasonably independent. However after the sackings of Tun Salleh Abas as the Lord President ( the highest judge of the land) and two senior Supreme Court judges orchestrated by Mahathir in order to protect his political position, the Malaysian judiciary 's independence from the executive has been severely compromised. In the nineties, not only was the Malaysian judiciary politically compliant, corruption amongst the judiciary right up to the top has become a serious problem. It manifested its ugly head publicly in cases such as the infamous Ayer Molek case. Political subservience to the executive by the judiciary was clearly demonstrated in the Liin Guan Eng case where in an unprecedented way, an opposition Member of Parliament, who was perceived as a rising star in the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) was tried and sentenced to, eighteen months jail under the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act for publicly exposing the case of statutory rape of a 15 year old girl.

The case against the former Deputy Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, is not really a legal fight. It is a political battle in the guise of a legal battle. The political stakes are high indeed in this case, for Dr Mahathir and his cronies and family are fighting against the rising discontent of the Malaysian people, and there is no reason why the Malaysian judiciary, under the control of Tun Eusoff Chin CJ, should not side with Mahathir. All this talk by Dr Mahathir that the Malaysian judiciary is independent and is able to make decisions freely is a propaganda exercise by him to make the people accept the eventual decision of the Court, which will be to Anwar's detriment.

Indeed, it is the view of many in the legal fraternity and members of the lay public that Anwar will not get a fair trial. He will be convicted in the criminal court (either at the High Court level or at the appellate stage). The plan is to get Anwar convicted and jailed as quickly as possible. This will deprive Anwar of his seat as a Member of Parliament. At the same time, Mahathir is rid of the man who poses the greatest threat to his political future.

The circumstances surrounding the Anwar case clearly indicate to Malaysians and the world that they should not have any illusion as to the independence of the Malaysian judiciary and its ability to make decisions freely. Under no circumstances will the judiciary be independent. Recent events in Malaysian legal history have proven this. This website examines these circumstances.

If you have additional comments and views, please e-mail

October 24th, 1998


Events prior to Anwar's arrest

Events subsequent to Anwar's arrest

Questions of independence and a fair trial