Did I not tell you so?

Raja Petra Kamarudin

It is always nice to be able to say to sceptics, “I told you so!” Sometimes though, one wishes one is wrong, as being right is no consolation if being so is to the detriment of the country.

On 9 November 2005, I published an article in my Loony Malaysia column called The Anwar Factor. This article was about how on 11 September 2000 I had said that the 11th General Election would have to be called by 2004, the final date to hold the election.

However, before that, Umno would have to ensure that Dr Mahathir Mohamad exits as Prime Minister and for his successor to take over. If not, then the ruling coalition would perform miserably as the ‘hate Mahathir factor’ would result in a repeat of the 1999 general election. After that, Umno would have to resolve the Anwar factor, in that they would have to find ways to free him from jail to clean the shit left behind by Dr Mahathir.

Of course, five years ago, when I first published that article, many pooh-poohed it and passed it off as ramblings of a rumourmonger based purely on speculation. Sure, it is easier to report past events and happenings. You do not need to be a historian to do that. Even a lowly reporter is able to take dictation and report verbatim what has been said and done. But to predict or forecast something, one needs to dabble in a certain amount of speculation, though, of course, based on certain criteria to support one’s assumption.

This is fine though if one is merely making a prediction based on certain assumptions. Predictions, after all, can go either way. But what if one is making an expose based on insider information, in particular sources that cannot be named? Does one venture and be proven wrong?

One can be proven wrong in three ways. One is that the sources may not be that reliable and have been misinformed, thus you too would be misinformed. This does happen, especially with overzealous sources who feel they know everything going on behind the scenes.

Secondly, the sources may be setting you up and are throwing you a Red Herring just to trap you into misreporting. This would be basically to destroy your credibility. Of course, one has to size up one’s sources. You have to ask your gut feeling whether this source is for real or whether he or she is just setting you up.

Finally, because you have already exposed the shenanigans, the perpetrators abandon the plan and decide not to embark on their evil deed after all. In this event therefore, you would of course be proven wrong, though not many would know about it and most would assume you have erred in your report.

But that is the risk one must take in exposing events before the fact. Your ‘pre-emptive strike’ may make them change their plan and you would be ‘proven wrong’. Sometimes we need to throw stones and break some windows to put those in power on their toes. Pre-emption is good if by pre-empting their moves means they would abort their devious plans.

The Anwar Ibrahim acquittal on 2 September 2004 is one case in point of a pre-emptive strike that turned out well. On 26 August 2004, 13 days after Malaysia Today was launched, we reported as follows:

According to legal circles, the three-month delay in delivering the verdict is because the three-person bench that sat to hear his appeal is divided on the verdict. It seems two of the judges, Abdul Hamid Mohamad and Tengku Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud, are in favour of acquitting Anwar while the third judge, Rahmah Hussain, wants to uphold the verdict.

Rumour has it the powers-that-be are perturbed about the possibility of Anwar being set free and instructions have been given that the verdict should be rewritten to ensure Anwar remains in jail until the end of his sentence on 14 April 2009.

This report upset many people, Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyers included, who phoned to say we have been very irresponsible in revealing this. They felt this report was totally untrue and they did not for one instant belief that this would happen. Even Anwar, the lawyers told me, was disturbed by Malaysia Today’s expose.

Anwar will never be set free, they said. It will be a three-zero verdict in favour of keeping Anwar in jail.

Well, what we said on 26 August 2004 did happen five days later, much to the surprise of all and sundry.

When I met Anwar on 4 September 2004, I asked him about this. “I heard you are not happy with me about Malaysia Today’s 26 August 2004 report,” I retorted.

Anwar then admitted that half an hour before the judges delivered their verdict on 2 September 2004, there were still attempts by the powers-that-be to ensure that all three judges unanimously reject the appeal and uphold the guilty verdict and nine-year jail sentence. However, Anwar explained, since it had already become public knowledge that the judgement had already been written and that it was a two-one verdict, the judges’ hands were tied and there was very little they could do to change it. “It is already all over the Internet,” the judges explained to their boss.

I then asked Anwar whether we were right or wrong in revealing this. Would the judges have succumbed to pressure and changed their verdict had we kept this confidential? Since it was now all out in the open the judges did not dare tamper with the written verdict.

Anwar admitted that exposing it actually helped as the judges did not dare rule otherwise now that the whole world was aware of the verdict. The question to now ask is: can Malaysian judges actually be pressured or instructed on how to rule? Well, on 27 March 2003, the Free Anwar Campaign (FAC) wrote about this in an article called ‘Is the hanky-panky still continuing?’ In it, FAC said:

Not too long ago, a prominent Federal Court judge revealed that, before any ‘important’ case, he would receive a phone call from his boss instructing him on how he should rule in that particular case.

This revelation shocked the entire nation. The shock was not that it was happening — as many know it is ‘normal’ for court cases in Malaysia to be rigged — but that this judge had the balls to take this public.

When pressed by the media as to whom this ‘boss’ is, he did not name names but cheekily hinted that everyone should be able to figure out for themselves who it is. It was apparent he was hinting that it was the Chief Justice, without directly saying so.

And to add more oomph to his revelation, he declared that he was not the only judge who was subjected to this. Other judges too suffered the same ‘direction from the top’. This, according to the judge, is a rampant and serious problem facing the Malaysian judiciary.

Ever wonder why no Malaysian would dare deny that Anwar Ibrahim’s judgment has already been written even before the Kuala Lumpur Appeal Court could sit to hear his appeal? And this belief has been strengthened by the recent meeting the newly-appointed Chief Justice had with two of the three judges who are sitting to hear Anwar’s appeal.

On Saturday, 22 March 2003, two days before Anwar’s appeal hearing started, two of the judges, Dato Pajan Singh Gill and Dato Richard Malajun, were summoned by the Chief Justice for a meeting. Somehow, the third judge, Dato Hashim Dato Yusoff, was not called.

Why were these two called? Is it, as has been revealed, judges are told before an ‘important’ case on how to rule? Were these two judges ‘compromised’? Or was this an ‘innocent’ meeting that had nothing to do with Anwar’s appeal that was to follow two days later?

Why was Dato Hashim not called? Is it because he has already been compromised? Or is it because they only need to compromise two of the three judges to get their majority?

At this point it cannot be established what transpired at the meeting in question and it may be a bit unfair to start throwing accusations of yet another conspiracy. But, as the legal fraternity is fond of saying, justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done.

And what we see certainly does not give any vision of the trappings of justice.

This latest development certainly does not augur well for Anwar. The meeting in the Acting Prime Minister’s office in Putrajaya on 17 February 2003 is of concern enough. Why should the Acting PM, de facto Law Minister, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Head of the Police, Head of the Judiciary, Attorney-General, and the judges involved in Anwar’s trials be locked up in a conference from lunch to dinner?

Had this meeting anything to do with Anwar’s Judicial Review and Appeal Hearing?

Why was this high-powered meeting called as soon as they found out that Anwar’s release papers had already been signed and that he would have served his sentence on 14 April 2003 after a one-third remission?

Why did they suddenly, the next day, on 18 February 2003, send Anwar’s solicitor a fax fixing his Judicial Review on 18 March 2003 and, six days later, on 24 February 2003, send another fax fixing his Appeal Hearing on 24 March 2003?

Why did they now want to rush everything, all in one go, after making Anwar wait for more than two-and-a-half years without responding to his numerous letters asking for the dates of these hearings to be set?

Why did the government announce, on more than one occasion, that Anwar will not be released on 14 April 2003, though his release papers had already been signed and before the two hearings could even commence — and even before Anwar could submit his bail application? How do they know the outcome of the hearings and bail application even before it could happen, let alone end?

Yes, questions, questions, and even more questions? But do we have the answers?

And, one more important question we need to ask: is the hanky-panky in the judiciary still going on? Are the judges still being told how to rule? Are the judges in Anwar’s Appeal Hearing already compromised?

I suppose the outcome of Anwar’s appeal hearing and bail application will answer this question.

Well, was the above a successful pre-emptive strike that made them abort their plan because they had been exposed or was it an error in prediction? I suppose only the perpetrators can testify to this.