The Statement from the Dock

Invariably, it is a difficult decision to make. Some believe that Anwar’s trial is political in nature. Others believe that this is not about politics but about a crime he has committed. So why deviate from the facts of the case and try to turn the whole trial into political grandstanding?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The jury appears out on whether Anwar Ibrahim’s Statement from the Dock is a clever strategic move or a blunder — which is just as well that Anwar’s trial does not have a jury.

Even those from the legal fraternity are divided on the matter. There are those who feel it is pointless for Anwar to take the stand and testify under oath since he is not going to get a fair trial anyway. And there are those who feel that if Anwar has nothing to hide then he should take the stand and allow the prosecution to cross-examine him.

After all, if he is telling the truth, then he would most certainly be able to defend himself under whatever tough and fierce cross-examination the prosecution may choose to subject him to, they argue.

Anwar’s Statement from the Dock was not a legal defence. It was a political statement. So it is being seen as just that — a political statement.

But could he not have made this political statement on another platform? Why make a political statement during a criminal trial?

I suppose there is always the problem of contempt of court. If Anwar whacks the judicial system and criticises the conduct of his trial, especially while the trial is still ongoing, then he could be cited for contempt of court.

Nevertheless, if the judge wishes to be nasty, there is nothing to prevent him from still citing Anwar for contempt of court even though his statement was made during the course of the trial. We have seen from previous incidences where people for been cited for contempt of court for lesser than what Anwar said in his statement.

Invariably, it is a difficult decision to make. Some believe that Anwar’s trial is political in nature. Others believe that this is not about politics but about a crime he has committed. So why deviate from the facts of the case and try to turn the whole trial into political grandstanding?

Anwar has only three choices. He can remain silent and not testify at all. He can take the stand and testify under oath. Or he can do what he did — make a Statement from the Dock whereby the prosecution would not be able to cross-examine him and tear him to pieces.

Of course, there is always a fourth choice. He can ‘boycott’ the trial and tell the court to go fuck itself (since the trial is a sham trial anyway), then leave the country and seek political asylum in a ‘friendly country’ (whereby he would be out of reach of the political masters who wish to see his destruction).

But then this fourth choice would mean this would be the end of his political career and he would open himself to insinuations that he has no balls and is afraid to face the consequences of his actions and that this must mean he is guilty like hell.

One thing both sides of the divide do agree on is that Anwar is going to be found guilty and is going to be sent to jail. There is no avoiding this. So, he might as well turn his trial into a political fight and then go to jail as a political prisoner or prisoner of conscience.

As a political move, I suppose, this is the best strategy. Make your Statement from the Dock, whack the judicial system, whack the court, whack the government, whack everything under the sun, and then walk into jail as a political prisoner.

The public will then no longer care about the facts of the case. They would not be concerned about whatever is raised during the trial. The public would already come to their conclusion even before the court delivers its verdict and would pronounce Anwar innocent and a victim of a political conspiracy.

In that sense, Anwar’s decision to make a Statement from the Dock was brilliant. He could deliver his political speech and no one could rebut what he said. The prosecution would not be able to tear him to pieces on the stand.

Basically, he had the last word on the matter and what he says remains undisputed.

Yes, as a political move this may be brilliant. But that would not save him from jail. And we must always remember that the world is not divided into just black and white. There are many other colours as well plus a mix of black and white, which would be grey.

So, those who are opposed to Anwar would scream that this proves he is guilty. Those who support him are in glee and say that this proves he is a victim of a political conspiracy. But those 50% more or so who neither support him nor oppose him would be left wondering whether Anwar really did or did not commit the crime since he never took the stand to testify under oath, so no one is ever going to know.

Anwar’s people know that this was a gamble. The Statement from the Dock could have worked or it could fail. It all depends on how they spin this later.

And they did try to spin it by explaining the logic of Anwar’s Statement from the Dock. But when Asia Sentinel came out with the report called ‘Did Malaysia’s Anwar Say Too Much’, they flipped.

They need to win in the court of public opinion. After all, that was the purpose of the Statement from the Dock. If not, then why bother? But Anwar’s people were not alert enough to counter the possible negative reports on this, as the statement by Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad below seems to prove.


Response to Asia Sentinel ‘Did Malaysia’s Anwar Say Too Much’.

I am responding to the Asia Sentinel report ‘Did Malaysia’s Anwar Say Too Much’.

There are several glaring mistakes in the report. John Berthelsen the author has made some amendments to the original report but I believe it is important to note that there other glaring mistakes including the underlying insinuation of the report.

In the first version of the report, the author wrote:

“He served six years before he was pardoned on the sexual perversion charges.” [para. 2]

It has since been amended to:

“He served six years before the sexual perversion charges were overturned.”

The fact is that Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy conviction was overturned by the Federal Court on 2 September 2004.

The more contentious part of the report was this paragraph, where the author originally wrote:

“Anwar said in his prepared statement that after Saiful went to Anwar’s condo in an exclusive area of Kuala Lumpur, he admitted that “he had brought along lubricant and had himself voluntarily and without hesitation applied it” to get ready to go ahead with the sexual act.

“That sentence would tend to invalidate any assumption that the then-60-year-old Anwar suddenly forced himself on the 24-year-old aide. If, as Anwar says, Saiful brought the lubricant with him, it would certainly indicate that Saiful knew what he was getting into when he went to Anwar’s condo that night.

“This in turn is hardly helpful for Anwar, who is on trial for his political life in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur over the allegations, because Saiful’s statement has the ring of truth to it. If you are going to make up a story about being forced into a sex act, you would hardly acknowledge that you voluntarily lubricated your own anus.” [paras. 3-5]

The first ‘he’ in para. 3 has been amended to Saiful as it was not apparent on whether the pronoun was referring to Anwar or Saiful in the first version.

But there are other glaring mistakes in the report that have not been amended.

In para. 4 it was mentioned that Saiful went to the condo at night when Saiful went to the condo at about 2.30 pm.

The insinuation by the author was also that Anwar was alone, waiting for Saiful. Anwar was in a meeting with a group of economists for a briefing. None of them were called upon by the prosecution as they would confirm Anwar was with them for the briefing. The defence are calling them as witnesses.

The defence also has repeatedly reaffirmed that Saiful was not in the particular condo unit. What the prosecution has done has to prove that Saiful was in the elevator and stopped at the same floor as the condo unit. But none of those with Anwar saw Saiful coming in and the prosecution has also not produced any evidence on the contrary.

The curious report, which includes the Lee Kuan Yew statement leaked by Wikileaks that Anwar walked into a trap seems to have the objective of confirming the former Singapore PM’s statement. Unfortunately it is littered with glaring mistakes obvious to anyone who has been following the trial closely and objectively.

Anyone who has read Anwar’s defence statement will see that every notion of a fair trial has been ignored in this obvious case of political persecution.