The trial of Anwar Ibrahim continues amidst an increasing number of editorials and commentaries in prominent international news sources. Even several foreign leaders have professed their opinions by way of public declarations, and statements.
Much of this commentary has framed the trial as a political maneuver on the part of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s government and claims that the proceedings are ‘rigged’ and ‘unfair.’ The trial has been described as an embarrassment to Malaysia and a test of whether the Government is truly moderate, democratic, and fair.
One editorial asks, “Is this moderate Muslim democracy becoming a nation with no real rule of law?” Yet the truth is that it is Malaysia’s judicial impartiality and commitment to democracy that has been put on trial in the court of international opinion.
Much of this criticism stems from the fact that many other countries do not regard the act of sodomy as a crime.
In Malaysia, the law clearly states that “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” as it is described by the penal code, is illegal and is punishable by 20 years in prison. While other countries may find this distasteful, outsiders have no right to criticize us or our constitutional laws.
These are for the people Malaysia – and their representative government – to decide.
Anwar has travelled internationally advocating for his defence over the last year and a half, since the allegations were brought against him. That is his right, and his viewpoint is reflected in the international coverage, which has been heavily skewed in his favour.
While the international media do not seem intent on presenting both sides in this case, both sides are being given their due right to present evidence within Malaysia’s court of law.
Fair, transparent and impartial judicial proceedings – without government interference – is what Anwar is receiving in this case, and what all Malaysians deserve. By implying the contrary, outside voices are belittling Malaysia’s rule of law and seeking to judge the case before all evidence is fairly assessed.
Evaluating the evidence is not the job of the media, or international observers. It is a job of the judges involved in the case. Public opinion does not, and cannot, trump justice.