Arguments against Anwar attending Parliament

Khairul Anwar Rahmat

(Bernama) – A lawyer said today the request by PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is serving a five-year jail sentence for sodomy, to attend meetings of the Dewan Rakyat, which sits for 20 days from Monday, should not be entertained.

Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat, who is chairman of the Malaysian Volunteer Lawyers Association (SukaGuam) said, allowing Anwar to attend Dewan Rakyat would be tantamount to mockery of the judiciary because he was convicted of a crime.

“An offender who is serving a sentence should not be allowed to attend (Dewan Rakyat) sittings. Offenders have never been allowed to do so in the history of the legislature and constitution, not only in the country but also elsewhere in the world. I have checked on this. This will clearly be an insult,” he told Bernama.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat has reportedly applied to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to allow Anwar, the MP for Pematang Pauh and Opposition Leader, to attend meetings of the Dewan Rakyat from Monday pending the disposal of an application for a royal pardon for Anwar.

The Federal Court, on Feb 10, found Anwar guilty of sodomy and upheld a Court of Appeal’s decision by sentencing him to five years’ jail.

Khairul Anwar said Anwar was penalised by the court as a lesson to the people regarding an offence and the offender should serve his sentence regardless of his status and position.

“If he is freed and allowed to attend Parliament, it would have been futile for the penalty to have been imposed and for him to be free just like any other person without any remorse (for) what he had done,” he said.

“Attending Dewan Rakyat sittings can be permitted if it is a study tour by prisoners close to their release (date) but not to attend as an MP,” he said.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) School of Social Sciences lecturer Prof Dr Ahmad Atory Hussain agreed that allowing Anwar to attend Dewan Rakyat sittings as an MP would be showing disrespect for the judiciary.

He said there is no question of his rights having been violated as he had been given ample opportunity to defend himself before the court found him guilty.

“This is not a question of whether he is an opposition party leader. If other MPs were in the same situation, they should also not be allowed to attend meetings of the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geostrategist Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said there is no urgent or critical necessity for Anwar to attend Parliament, and it appears that he seems to have an ulterior motive.

He said the presence of Anwar would trigger massive political polemics.

Disallowing Anwar to attend Parliament is neither a violation of human rights nor, for that matter, persecution as alleged by his supporters, he said.