Malaysia protests, but US insists on commenting on Anwar

July 25th, 2008 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore/Kuala Lumpur, July 25 (IANS) Malaysia has again protested what it says is interference by the US, but Washington says it will continue to comment on opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who is being probed on a sodomy charge. The latest repost by Malaysia, the second in a month, came at the level of foreign ministers who met in Singapore on the sidelines of the 41st Asean Ministerial Meeting.

Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said he had spoken to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and explained at length the issue to her.

“I had explained to Rice that investigations against Anwar over sodomy allegations were not in any way politically motivated.

“I had also specifically itemised the Criminal Procedure Code, which is an age-old instrument of administration of criminal law in the Commonwealth.

“I spoke on this to point out the fact that we have an entrenched and recognised system of criminal law,” he was quoted as saying in The Star Friday.

Rice, prior to her meeting with Rais, urged Malaysia to be transparent and abide strictly by the law when handling investigations against Ibrahim.

Rice maintained that her government would continue to make remarks or speak out on legal cases despite being accused of meddling in another country’s internal affairs.

She said the US had long spoken out in cases deemed to be political in nature and would continue to do so.

“We are always going to speak up on human rights cases, political cases, but again we do so in a spirit of respect for Malaysia. We certainly do not look at it as meddling. Even-handed application of the rule of law is very important,” she said.

The US had backed Ibrahim when he was slapped with the sodomy charge in 1998. It cautioned Malaysia again last month when Ibrahim was again faced with the same charge by a political aide, Mohammed Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Ibrahim has denied the charge, calling it a conspiracy to prevent him to being elected to parliament, where his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail leads an 82-strong opposition alliance.

Ibrahim took refuge in the Turkish embassy in Kuala Lumpur, saying he feared for his life. This caused a brief diplomatic spat between Malaysia and Turkey.

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