What Anwar Ibrahim's Trial Means for Asia July 20, 2010 : 2:19 PM

Anwar Ibrahim is one of the most enlightened and visionary political leaders in Asia and yesterday former U.S. Ambassador John Malott argued persuasively that the US should stand with Anwar Ibrahim. I could not agree more. Malott writes in the Wall Street Journal (July 19, 2010):

“Already convicted by the government-controlled media, Mr. Anwar and his defense team have been denied access to the evidence that the government possesses, including police and medical reports, surveillance tapes, and even the witness list. Malaysia does not have a jury system. The verdict will be rendered by one judge, appointed by the same government that wants to remove Mr. Anwar from the political scene."

"While a handful of human rights groups and some Australian parliamentarians have condemned the trial, there has been little interest at the broader international level. The Obama administration has been silent."

"When I visited Malaysia last month, it was clear that Mr. Anwar and most observers expect a guilty verdict in August. At that point, the question is whether he remains free on bail during his appeal or is jailed immediately."

"A charismatic campaigner, Mr. Anwar led his coalition to near victory in Malaysia's last parliamentary elections in 2008, when the opposition took 47% of the popular vote and gained 62 seats. The government's new political game plan seems to be to put Mr. Anwar in jail and the opposition in disarray, call snap elections, and ride to victory.”

This is an important issue that deserves more coverage and attention at all levels. Mr. Malott’s conclusion rings true to me:

“In 1998, Mr. Anwar said, "If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone." That is no less true today. If Mr. Anwar is denied his freedom, then Malaysians will continue to be denied their freedom and the country its promise.”

To read the entire op ed, (subscription required) click here.