Anwar had sued Khalid Jafri for writing 50 Reasons Why Anwar Ibrahim Cannot Become Prime Minister, which was published in mid-1998 while Anwar was serving as deputy to then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, and helped lead to his dismissal in September of that year.
High Court Judge Hishamuddin Yunus on Thursday ordered Khalid to pay Anwar damages for making a “vicious and venomous public attack” against Anwar in the book, which was widely circulated among members of the ruling United Malays National Organisation of which Anwar was deputy leader.
But Anwar’s lawyers conceded that he might never receive the sum, because Khalid, a former newspaper editor, has been in hospital for chronic diabetes since early this month, and is reportedly in critical condition after having his leg amputated.
“It is a matter of honour and truth”
Anwar stressed that the money was “never an issue” for him, noting that this was the first legal verdict that backed his claims that he had been the victim of a political conspiracy.
“I am happy I am vindicated completely in this judgment,” Anwar, Malaysia’s most charismatic dissident politician, told reporters. “It is a matter of honour and truth.”
Hishamuddin indicated he agreed with Anwar’s claim that Khalid was paid to write the book by Anwar’s enemies in the ruling party, seeking to destroy his reputation and topple him in 1998.
“The defendant and others who conspired with the defendant achieved their purpose,” Hishamuddin said, noting that Anwar’s “political career was ruined as a result of the publication of the book.”
Anwar was arrested in 1998 after
It was one of the biggest libel damages awarded in Malaysia in recent years, and marked Anwar’s second court victory this month after he won an apology and undisclosed damages from the country’s ex-police chief who assaulted him in custody in 1998.
Khalid, 65, was recently sentenced to a year in prison for publishing false information in his book, but his sentence was postponed pending an appeal.
Anwar was arrested after leading street protests against Mahathir in September 1998. He was sentenced to prison terms totalling 15 years before a successful appeal against the sodomy charge set him free last year. He had already served the corruption sentence.
The criminal conviction bars Anwar from holding public office until 2008, but the charismatic politician is determined to work with his wife’s opposition group and other activists to push for wider democratic rights and to fight corruption.