The Bersih founder and legal champion of reform and clean elections, Ambiga Shreenevasan provided a true and simple message when she spoke at the vigil to mark the jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s birthday outside Sungai Buloh prison.
She said a united opposition would be the best birthday present anyone could offer Malaysia’s own Mandela and she reminded the now quarrelling forces against BN of Anwar’s unique abilities.
“Only Anwar Ibrahim could create an opposition front so strong that in 2013 they won the popular vote, we must never forget that”, she said.
This was of course the very reason why the jealous tyrant, which is what the present Prime Minister has now become, drove Anwar into jail in one of the most breath-taking examples of legal persecution in modern politics.
By cutting off its head Najib reckoned he had destroyed the opposition coalition – and at the moment it looks that way. Rather than coming stronger together to fight the injustice, many have started looking for ‘new’ or ‘future’ solutions. Some are saying that Anwar was flawed and is now ‘in the past’ and that opposition parties should ‘move on’ and look for new leaders and forget him in his cell.
However, you cannot ‘move on’ from your principles and you cannot abandon justice. The result has been quarrelling.
Indeed if there is one thing that all right-minded people of Malaysia can understand and unite in agreement over, it is that cooking up a politically motivated case against a popular leader and slamming him in jail (even after an acquittal in the High Court), which is what happened to Anwar, is a disgraceful and shocking crime, not just against him but against all the people of Malaysia.
Malaysians cannot move on with a clean conscience if they forget, ignore or abandon Anwar. Rather, those leaders of the future must loudly unite on this one point and hold to account the thieving liar who put their mentor into jail.
Even leaders of the past, who have disagreed with Anwar, while at times working alongside him, can only but agree that the monstrous abuse of the law during the so-called Sodomy 2 trial represents a shocking slur against the good name of Malaysia.
Indeed, from jail Anwar ought by rights to become an even more powerful unifying figure than he was when free. Because, not only the opposition, but all right-minded Malaysians who believe in justice should come together in the campaign for his release.
After all, it was Anwar who first courageously raised the alarm over 1MDB, without doubt awaking fear in the mind of the thief who is now exposed.
Key leaders from UMNO’s disaffected ranks seem more ready by the day to acknowledge that they can no longer endorse the cooked-up judgement brought against their political opponent for such low and ruthless political reasons.
Now is the time for those figures to do so in public.
They witnessed a trial that became a farce, where the present Prime Minister emerged as a central figure, having met with the alleged victim of sodomy just two days before he filed his complaint. Yet Najib lied about it twice.
They witnessed how the High Court threw out the cooked-up case for lack of evidence, only to have the new Prime Minister use all his force and powers to drive through an appeal of that acquittal and a conviction in the higher courts.
Even Najib’s own pet private lawyer was allowed to irregularly usurp the place of the public prosecutors in order to ensure the Prime Minister got the conviction he was determined to achieve against his rival.
Now Najib is targeting these same legal weapons against the other powerful opposition figure, Guan Eng. Like a deadly snake who patiently waits, Najib stalks and slowly suffocates his political enemies through a court system that he has brought under his own control.
Therefore, what was done to Anwar and will be done to others has become a symbol of all that is wrong in present day Malaysia and it must be put right before anything else can hope to see repair.
Factions who have failed to focus on putting right this central wrong have also failed to grasp the power of the simple message of this blatant injustice to a wider world.
The Prime Minister has stolen billions, but it is his opponents who get put in jail.
So, Malaysians should cease to tell themselves that they need to “move on” from the decades long persecution of Anwar. They need to stand by this brave political hero and reach out for more support.
In South Africa it took 27 years before Nelson Mandela was freed, but the dogged determination of his supporters made that day happen and it brought them unity.
Right minded Malaysians must demand the freedom of Anwar and much quicker than that. They all know who has committed the real crimes in Malaysia.