If Anwar had been found guilty, democracy in Malaysia would be in a worse state than in Myanmar
Tian Chua—Deputy Chairman, Peoples' Justice Party:
The decision of the Malaysian High Court last week, to release opposition leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, of sodomy charges a criminal act in Malaysia, was a big surprise. Tian Chua, the Peoples' Justice Party (PKR) deputy chairman, is of the opinion that Prime Minister Datuk Najib Abdul Razak is trying to avoid reaping further criticism, both abroad as well as inside the country. "This decision was reached during a situation when the government faces a dilemma," Tian Chua told Masur, Tempo correspondent in Malaysia, in an interview in Kuala Lumpur last week. Excerpts:
What is your view of the decision to find Anwar not guilty?
Logically, this is the best decision possible in the worst situation. Whether they like it or not a decision had to be made on Anwar. Had Anwar been found guilty, peoples' hatred towards the party in power would only have increased.
Did you expect this outcome?
To be honest this decision was beyond our expectations, given the government's authoritarian stance, especially, when we see how far Malaysia is lagging behind other Southeast Asian countries on democracy issues. Just look at Myanmar, which has always been regarded as being far behind, now has begun to open communications with the opposition. This means that if we had found Anwar guilty, democracy in Malaysia would be in an even worse position than in Myanmar. And this does not take in all the criticism that Malaysia would get from its ASEAN neighbors. Meanwhile in Malaysia itself, Najib would have to face enormous waves of demonstrations.
Are you suggesting that the High Court decision was politically motivated?
Yes, I am. And as I have already said, this decision was made in order to avoid embarrassing the Malaysian government abroad at international forums as well as to avoid the hatred of the Malaysian people. This decision was taken at a time when the Malaysian government facesa dilemma. They therefore chose the option with the least risk.
How will this impact on the opposition?
First, it will strengthen the general public's faith in Anwar's integrity. Second, we have a leadership that is able to weave unity both within the coalition as well as between different ethnic and religious groups in Malaysia. This is because until now, UMNO has been opening old wounds with regards to ethnic and religious issues, whereas Anwar has been uniting people .
What are your future plans?
We are preparing a manifesto on what we plan to do should we lead the government. This will no longer be about general issues which are rhetorical in nature, but a detailed and specific plan. For example what sort of an open press we intend to have, or how we intend to bring about a more equitable division of wealth in this country for all Malaysians both in the cities as well as in the villages.
Issue: 22/12, January 25, 2012