Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Anwar Ibrahim vs Saiful: Victor's justice?

We know of the verdict in favour of Anwar Ibrahim. We read how it brought tears of joy to many, to close family members, followers, party supporters, sympathetic members of the public, and those with political interests in the turn of events.
Fanatical supporters danced in the street, like an intoxicated mob (of power), chanted ‘we shall conquer Putrajaya!,’ , ‘ go die UMNO’(mampus UMNO)
Foreign press and media, completely sold and bought into the cliches of the Anwar’s saga, of near template-like motifs of a former Deputy Prime Minister being victimized by the evil machination of a ruling party, bent on clinging to power (dubbed as the theory of conspiracy); the formerly brilliant Minister of Finance, the man who headed the wave of reforms and democracy in Malaysia, once charged and convicted, vindicated by an overturn of conviction by the court (often not mentioning it was on technicality), went to town toasting the ‘justice had been served ‘ theme of a happy ending.
And yet if we look at the whole coverage of ‘the saga’ more objectively, beyond partisanship, we have a sense of gross one -sidedness, a skewed picture of the whole. Perhaps foreign (international?) press coverage of the episode would go into history as one of the major chapters of ideological distortion and falsification ever committed by the press (ironically all in the name of freedom of the press and democracy!)
I give a few illustrations to convey the point. While exaggerating  the heroic picture of an ‘ex DPM and Minister of Finance battling UMNO', it was almost never mentioned that he was DPM and Minister of Finance within the UMNO setup nevertheless, and was very much true to the UMNO ethos then. Anwar is constantly drummed up as the beacon of reforms and democracy, but it is rarely mentioned it was an overnight metamorphosis from ‘UMNO' to 'Reformasi’ for Anwar, immediately after his sacking from UMNO, and at a rather late stage in his life (in terms of ideological evolution)
Saiful must be one of the loneliest human being on earth right now. He started as an underdog in the opening of the case, was an underdog during its course (in the sense all publicity and media coverage were generally devoted to Anwar’s politically charged defense and ‘antics’), and ended up perhaps worse than underdog. After the verdict, abuses and profanities had been hurled at him. The youth leader of PKR demanded Saiful be charged and sentenced under the syariah court for 'slandering' Anwar. Not much international coverage was accorded to Saiful's response to the verdict (have you seen his statement?) He was  only supported by the solitary figure of his devoted father who swore to stand by his son.
 In the meantime the influential Bar Council of Malaysia had issued a statement recommending the Attorney General not to file an appeal against the verdict. Saiful’s father had issued a simple statement that in doing so  the Bar Council is denying Saiful justice and due process of law, perhaps because Saiful is a small man, a non VIPand a non politician of no consequence(have you seen his statement?)
Perhaps this could be a reason why Saiful insisted on seeing PM Najib before deciding to file the case ( the occassion of which was exploited to the hilt by the defense in alleging  the conspiracy theory) Perhaps  the reason too why he hesitated and vacillated before deciding (which worked against him in the DNA evidence due to the time lag). He must have had a daunting sense of taking on a powerful, skillful and shrewd politician. Just a small man looking for support in confronting  an awesome public figure with a powerful political machinery, both local and international.
So what’s next? Had history been finally sealed on this infamous case? Is it just a turn in a yet long winding road, a continuing saga the ending of which is yet to be written (who writes it? Historians, UMNO, Pakatan, the foreign press?) Meanwhile I hear ‘joy flooded the Tweeters’ over the verdict. PAS goes on chanting ‘Putrajaya we shall conquer’. When a TV3 newsreader slipped in referring to 'Anwar'  (instead of Prime Minister Najib) visiting Johannesburg , Anwar was fast to quip in public ‘she knows, except she is mentioning it a bit early…would like to meet her’, greeted by the laughter of an adulating crowd!
Certainly for now everything seems to be going the way of Anwar and his powerful supporters, local and abroad. Saiful and his devoted father would have to endure the rough edges of victor’s justice, for now?


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