US praise for Malaysia criticised

Former Malaysian deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim has attacked the United States for endorsing Malaysia as a moderate Muslim democracy, when it actually enjoyed little freedom.

    The ex-Malaysian premier says US confidence is misplaced

    The rebel politician on Tuesday said there were no free and fair elections in Malaysia and complained of a lack of freedom of speech, which hindered exposure of corruption in the country led by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
    "How do you have free and fair elections when the views of the opposition are not heard?" Anwar asked in his first public address in the United States since being released from prison in September last year.

    "The entire media is controlled by the ruling party and you have free and fair elections?"

    US ignorance

    "I mean it is mockery, it is mockery even when Washington, for example, approves this sort of exercise because it just portrays your utter ignorance or inconsistency in dealing with such countries," he said at the Johns Hopkins University's Washington-based School of Advanced International Studies. 

    "How do you have free and fair elections when the views of the opposition are not heard?"

    Anwar Ibrahim
    Former Malaysian prime minister

    Anwar had enjoyed close ties with the US government before the heir-apparent to then-premier Mahathir Muhammad was sacked and later jailed on corruption and sodomy charges, which he says were trumped up to prevent him challenging Mahathir for the premiership.
    He was freed from nearly six years in prison when Malaysia's top court overturned his sodomy conviction. But the court refused to allow an appeal against his corruption conviction, effectively barring him from active politics until 2008 under regulations governing convicted criminals.

    Improving ties

    Malaysia is often cited as a moderate and model Muslim country by the Bush administration. Bilateral relations have flourished since Abdullah took over from Mahathir, an ardent critic of the West, in October 2003.

    Anwar said the United States and other Western nations were willing to look the other way if countries supported their "war on terror".

    "They are so gullible. As long as you come out openly and publicly condemn terror, then you get away with murder," he said.
    Apprantly backing his claim that there was little freedom in Malaysia, the 57-year-old Anwar said he was prevented from speaking to university students.
    "I am not in a position to speak to students in any university in the country. And you are talking about a moderate Muslim country with democracy as being claimed".
    "If you want to be a moderate Muslim country, you cannot condone corruption," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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