As world bodies like the Human Rights Watch continue to condemn the Malaysian government’s unfair prosecution of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, ordinary folk are still digesting the latest convolution in the complex trial that Anwar himself has accused Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor of concocting.
The “tilted” trial will resume on Monday after High Court Judge Mohammad Zabidin Mohd Diah rejected Anwar’s application for a postponement. His lawyers has asked to wait until an Appellate Court decides on whether the defense has the right to key documents currently held by the prosecution, which has stubbornly refused to share.
“Basic fair trial rights require giving Anwar access to the prosecutor’s evidence so he can defend himself. Unfortunately, the prosecutors have tilted the playing field against Anwar by keeping key documents from his lawyers,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
Yet even as Anwar moves a step closer to jail with the trial’s resumption, ironically, he is also a step closer to Putrajaya, the administrative seat of power, thanks to public backlash against Najib’s perceived corrupt methods in blocking out fair competition.
Malaysians are also grappling with the latest scandal within the Sodomy II case – the emergence of an alleged affair between complainant Saiful Bukhari Azlan and one of the deputy public prosecutors in the trial - a lady named Farah Azlina Latiff.
Even the Bar Council has advised the authorities to do the right thing and initiate an investigation. "It is definitely is an ethical matter, as prosecutions are done in the interest of justice. You are there to put your case before the court in the interest of justice. As there is no client here, there should be no relationship between prosecutor and complainant," said Bar president Ragunath Kesavan.
Yet given the record of the trial judge, who has so far veered on the side of the government, few believe that the defense’s application for a probe will be granted.
“Again, the government has gone on denial mode. There is clearly a conflict of interest if the affair is true. The court must allow an investigation by calling on Saiful and Farah to answer if it is true they had an affair,” PKR supreme council member Badrul Hisham Shaharin told Malaysia Chronicle.
“Will Saiful take another oath now – this time to swear that he was forced by Farah,” chided Badrul.
Neither Farah nor Saiful have responeded to the allegations so far but if there is a probe, the pair may have to take the stand and confirm or deny the allegations.
Indeed, while there is some sympathy for Farah, the predominant feeling is that of disgust for Saiful who had preened for the cameras and portrayed himself as an innocent, upright youngster who was forced into an illicit sexual act by Anwar.
He even went through the media circus of taking an oath in a mosque, where he swore on the Quran that he was sodomized against his will by Anwar.