Right of Reply: J M Amir

The Malaysian High Commissioner replies to Anwar Ibrahim's criticisms of the Malaysian Government
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The Independent Culture
ANWAR IBRAHIM'S article is a desperate attempt to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Malaysian Government and its Prime Minister. He was dismissed from office on account of his alleged misuse of power and sexual misconduct, offences that call for indictment.

It would, therefore, be very misleading to imply that his arrest is politically motivated. He was arrested on 20 September 1998, under the Internal Security Act because he had acted, and was about to further act, in a manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia, by instigating the people who attended his gathering to go against the democratically-elected government. Anwar Ibrahim was released unconditionally from ISA detention on 14 October 1998, but he continues to be remanded in custody pending his trial, since he was not allowed bail on the grounds that he might tamper with witnesses relating to his charge, if released. The trial itself is already well into its 33rd day today. In Malaysia, trials have always been fair.

Malaysia has respectable legal and judicial procedures in place that are independent of the executive. The many prominent lawyers enlisted to defend Anwar Ibrahim in court give credence to the openness and fairness of the judicial system. The trial is not about power, but truth.

We would also wish to mention that the Malaysian press discharged its responsibilities in a balanced manner, not merely to serve the interests of one man. The foreign media accuses the Malaysian government of controlling the press, but the foreign media is doing the same - it has hardly given the Malaysian government's side an airing. Malaysia has always allowed dissent and there has always been a group of vocal oppositionists in Parliament, ever since 1955.

Until his dismissal, Anwar Ibrahim was a senior member of the Cabinet, which decides on measures necessary for the economic recovery of the country. He was party to all policy decision of the National Economic Recovery Plan (NERP), which was unanimously endorsed by the Malaysian Cabinet in July 1998. The NERP itself was arrived at by consensus, after thorough discussion by prominent people from the relevant bodies in Malaysia.

It is, therefore, a falsehood for anyone to suggest that PM Mahathir Mohamad is the sole architect of Malaysia's economic programmes. We Malaysians believe that the NERP is putting the country on the right course.