Despite sodomy conviction, Anwar says will contest PKR presidency

Anwar Ibrahim

(Malay Mail) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has confirmed he will contest PKR’s top post despite facing the possibility of imprisonment following his sodomy conviction by the court of appeal last month.

Although he has filed a notice of appeal against the court decision at the federal court level, PKR’s constitution stipulates that anyone holding a party post must be free of any criminal charge.

The court of appeal’s ruling also resulted in Anwar being barred from contesting last Sunday’s Kajang by-election. He was replaced by his wife and current party president, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who also won the Selangor state seat.

“Yes, I will contest the post. The court decision, we will see what happens, but I am contesting it,” Anwar told The Malay Mail Online when met outside of the Parliament building here recently.

The Permatang Pauh MP is currently PKR de facto leader, a post designed specifically for him by the party after his release from prison in 2004.

Wan Azizah had said earlier today that she would defend her position as party president should Anwar choose not to contest the post.

The Malay Mail Online understands that current deputy president Azmin Ali has also expressed interest in moving up the party ladder, and has indicated to Anwar that he would make a run for the presidency should the opposition leader opt out of the party elections.

But Anwar’s confirmation will likely put an end to speculation on the party’s top post as well as possible candidates since it is unlikely anyone will challenge him.

“He is basically in charge of the party… no matter what, he needs to formalise it through contesting the presidency.

“The court case however will prove to be a problem,” a PKR source told The Malay Mail Online.

Following the Court of Appeal’s reversal of Anwar’s 2012 acquittal, the appellate court also handed him a five-year jail sentence.

After a two-day hearing last month, the Court of Appeal ruled that the High Court had erred in rejecting the DNA evidence adduced in the Sodomy II trial.

On January 9, 2012, Anwar was acquitted of allegedly sodomising Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at the Desa Damansara condominium on June 26, 2008.

High Court judge Datuk Mohd Zabidin had then acquitted Anwar on grounds that he could not rule out possible tampering of the DNA samples in the case.

The opposition leader was charged under Section 377B of the Penal Code, which carries a sentence of a maximum of 20 years’ jail and whipping upon conviction.

The trial began 18 months after Anwar was charged in court in August 2008.

In 1998, the former deputy prime minister and finance minister was charged with sodomy and corruption after he was sacked from the cabinet. He was convicted and jailed for both offences but the sodomy charge was overturned.

Anwar was freed in September 2004 after spending six years in jail and returned to the limelight by winning back his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in a by-election in 2008, which he defended in May 5 national polls.

The nomination date for all top PKR posts kicks off today while nominations for divisional posts will be from April 4 to April 13.

Voting will begin on April 25 and end on May 11, and the results will be announced either on May 12 or May 13.

PKR recently amended its election rules to ensure a clean and healthy polls this May.

Under the new rules, individuals can now nominate themselves, instead of relying on proposals from the divisions.

The duration for the voting process will also be shorter than previously.