Malaysia protests US caution on Anwar Ibrahim (Lead)

July 2nd, 2008 - 12:06 am ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, July 1 (IANS) Malaysia Tuesday said it would protest the US statement warning against any “politically motivated” investigation into the sodomy charge against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. The US State Department statement amounted to interference in Malaysia’s internal affairs, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said, adding that the foreign office would issue a note to the US mission here.

“This is a statement which I perceive as an attempt to meddle in our administration. We have our own government, our own laws and our own enforcement,” Badawi said.

“We know what we will have to do to ensure all due process in the law is implemented fairly and nobody is ill-treated or threatened. This is our objective and our practice,” Badawi was quoted by Star Online.

Badawi protested the American insinuation that his government was seeking to repeat persecution of Ibrahim.

Recalling that Ibrahim had faced similar charges in the past (in 1998, when he was deputy prime minister in the government of prime minister Mahathir Mohamad) and his conviction was overturned, US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said: “So, we would hope that there’s not a pattern here.”

The US comment came hours after Ibrahim left the Turkish Embassy, where he had taken refuge Sunday after receiving threatening messages.

However, Badawi was quoted as saying Tuesday: “The United States seems to harbour prejudice against us. The government will not intervene in any investigation. The team carrying out the probe is professionals and they know their duties.”

Ibrahim has alleged precisely this by naming the key officials who, he says, were indicted for their role in 1998.

The controversy showed no sign of abetting even though Badawi met Ibrahim’s wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is the opposition leader in parliament, and assured her that her husband would not be harmed and that he would receive fair treatment at the hands of the law.

He met her after Ibrahim charged that three top government officials concerned with the probe against him were the ones involved in the 1998 investigations against him on the same charge.

Badawi described Attorney General Gani Patail and Inspector General of Police Musa Hasan as “responsible professionals” who would go by the law of the land.

Ibrahim filed a police case claiming that he had “fresh evidence” that these officials had played partisan role against him in what was called “Operation Black Eye” and that they had been proved wrong.

The operation referred to the sodomy charge levelled in 1998 against Ibrahim, after which he was sacked by Mahathir Mohamad and was jailed.

Exonerated of the sodomy charge then, Ibrahim faced it again last Sunday when an aide he had employed during the March general election campaign charged that he had been sodomised last Thursday by Ibrahim and that this was not the first time.

Ibrahim has rejected the charge as “totally fabricated” and has said that this was meant to prevent his return to parliament in a bye-election.

He has emerged politically strong since March election, heading an opposition alliance that won an unprecedented 82 seats and controls five of the 13 states. Ibrahim claims that he can bring down the Badawi government by September.

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