Sodomy II: Anwar’s reputation already damaged

(Malaysiakini) – Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal may give the opposition a boost in the coming general election, but he has been weakened and his reputation already damaged by the trial, said a leading international magazine.

“Although Anwar remains a charismatic figure and a forceful speaker, his reputation has been tarnished.

“That won’t matter to his acolytes, but at 64 he also seems a distant and untrustworthy figure to many younger Malaysians,” said  the London based The Economist in an article today.

NONEThe report, that analysed the effects of the dramatic verdict of the long-drawn Sodomy II trial on Monday, said that the results nevertheless gave Pakatan a “much-needed boost” to the point that Prime Minister Najib Razak might postpone polls.

However, it said that Anwar had “failed to nurture a new generation of opposition leaders” within his party.

“Rather than turning his party (PKR) into a vibrant, modernising force in politics he has allowed it to become something of a family-run affair, driven by infighting.”

The report added that a guilty verdict would have given the embattled leader a rallying point.

“In prison, some political operators say, he could have served as a useful martyr figure to rally the opposition.

“Now, they are stuck with him indefinitely as a leader. Anwar may still be popular enough to land a few blows on the government. But he may also be too weakened to deliver the knockout punch.

The judge in the sodomy trial delivered a surprise verdict on Monday, leading to speculation that his decision had been influenced bycertain quarters.

Speculation remains if the prosecution will appeal the verdict.