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"The following events unfolded like a bad episode of a soap opera."
- Idlan Zakaria

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Malaysia

The 'Anwar Ibrahim' saga
by Idlan R. Zakaria, 22, Selangor, Malaysia
Sep 24, 1999

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Conspiracy seems to be a key word in the whole issue. As Anwar made his claims, so did Dr. Mahathir. Dr. Mahathir maintains that the only conspiracy in the issue was that of Anwar trying to oust him - it is no secret that Anwar did try a coup of some sort with his supporters during the previous UMNO (the ruling party) general assembly, by insinuating the fact of a corruption ridden government that needed to be eradicated.

The following events unfolded like a bad episode of a soap opera. Later that September, Anwar was arrested on sodomy and corruption charges, put to trial late last year and was found guilty on count of corruption, for which he is serving six years. He is currently in court for the sodomy charges.

When US Vice President Al Gore came to KL during APEC 1998, he made claims to support Anwar, whom government backers believe were in cahoots with foreign powers in the strive to oust Dr. Mahathir. Many Malaysians believe Dr. Mahathir is not a very popular figure in the West because of his outspokenness, but the fact that he does have a point sometimes does make him a man worth listening to. A good example was the way he handled the economic crisis - even the most staunch of Anwar supporters may have to agree that Dr. Mahathir's rather unconventional methods worked and as a result, Malaysia is in a relatively better condition than its neighbours who suffered the effects of the crisis.

The latest drama that is unfolding is Anwar's arsenic poisoning episode. The government maintains it is a political ploy - Anwar's supporters- mostly of the party KeADILan led by his wife - claim their spiritual leader is in critical condition after being poisoned. What does the average public know? Nothing concrete.

This is not the first time something happened to Anwar in jail. When he was first held in custody and was brought to court for arraignment, he sported a black eye. The tribunal that followed placed the guilty fist on the onus of former IGP Rahim Noor, who resigned upon the event.

So there goes the chain of events to date. Many outsiders do not understand why Anwar is being charged with sodomy. Well, Malaysia is a Muslim country and in Islam, sodomy and homosexuality is forbidden. As such, it is stated in the law that homosexuality is a crime. In the era of openness, coming out of the closet and human rights, many feel this to be absurd. But remember, cultures differ from place to place, and that's the way things work round here.

Basically, that's the saga. Yes, it does sound like an elaborate novel. But then again, all political conflicts do.

So is there really a conspiracy? If so, whose conspiracy? We don't really know, actually. So we just wait and see.

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