Fearing repeat of 1998, Anwar’s family demands guarantee of his safety


(Malay Mail Online) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s family is seeking assurances of his well-being and safety in prison, fearing a repeat of abuse the PKR de facto chief suffered during his previous incarceration back in the 90s.

Anwar’s eldest daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, said prison officials refused to allow them to visit him yesterday after he was brought to the Sungai Buloh Prison.

“From past experience, it will usually be a month after conviction date before we can see him,” she told reporters at a news conference here.

“We underwent a difficult time with him being beaten in custody (back in 1998).

“We want an assurance that he is safe,” Nurul Izzah added, referring to Anwar’s famous “black-eye incident” back when he was assaulted by a senior police official during his arrest then.

Anwar’s second daughter, Nurul Nuha Anwar, said he had also been poisoned in prison the last time, which the family learned after sending his urine samples to a lab in Australia for testing.

“In the past, it was arsenic poisoning in Sungai Buloh Prison, we had to send (a sample) to Australia,” she said, in between tears.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has said Anwar will not receive special dispensation during his five-year imprisonment for sodomy and will be treated as just another inmate.

Wan Junaidi reportedly explained that the Prison Department of Malaysia would be accused of discriminating against other inmates if special treatment was provided to notable figures serving time in prison.

“We cannot give ‘five-star’ treatment to former luminaries or millionaires who are imprisoned after conviction, while beggars are in bad condition.

“All who are found guilty by the courts, get the same treatment from the Prison Department (suitable with the status of inmates),” he was quoted telling local paper Berita Harian.

Wan Junaidi confirmed, however, that the Prison Department could provide other facilities to inmates who have health issues, saying that he is unable to state the exact nature of available additional facilities as it is under the department’s jurisdiction.

“The Director-General of Prisons can make a decision based on the medical report received. For now, no decision that Anwar will receive any special treatment,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said Anwar’s family members may visit him at the Sungai Buloh Prison during visiting hours set by the Prison Department, and that non-government organisations such as the Malaysian Red Crescent Society may apply to visit him.

Yesterday, the Federal Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s conviction of Anwar for sodomising his former political aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, also keeping a five-year jail sentence.

With the jail sentence, Anwar now stands to lose his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat as the law bars anyone fined over RM2,000 or imprisoned more than one year from serving as a lawmaker, unless a free pardon is granted.

The decision also leaves the Pakatan Rakyat opposition pact without a leader.