Malaysia’s Anwar says likely to be suspended from parliament


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Friday he was likely to be suspended from parliament, after a disciplinary probe against him refused to hear his defence.
The government in April urged action against Anwar after he criticised its “One Malaysia” national unity slogan, saying it had been copied from the “One Israel” political alliance of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak in 1999.
Muslim-majority Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and is a supporter of a Palestinian state. “They charged me, they should hear me,” Anwar told a news conference, after two opposition parliamentarians sitting on the disciplinary committee withdrew, saying the committee had made its decision without hearing Anwar’s testimony.
The opposition leader said he had been prepared to give evidence but could now only wait for the decision, which he said will “most likely be suspension”. Anwar, a former deputy prime minister who was sacked and jailed a decade ago on sex and corruption charges seen as politically motivated, is currently on trial over new allegations of illicit relations with a young male aide.
“All these attacks against me, it’s not coincidental, we can see that there is a concerted attempt at denying me my right to be heard as the leader of the opposition,” he said. Sivarasa Rasiah, one of the pair who quit the disciplinary committee in protest, said the refusal to hear Anwar’s defence was “outrageous”.
“The committee’s decision has far-reaching implications on freedom of speech in parliament as it means that those charged do not have a right to be heard; this goes against natural justice,” he said.
Parliament speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, head of the disciplinary committee, confirmed a decision had been made but did not say when it would be presented to parliament. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who came to power last year, has been trying to reach out to Chinese and Indian minorities — who deserted the government in the last national polls — under the “One Malaysia” initiative.