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MGG Pillai - Anwar Unconscious

The jailed former deputy prime minister, Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, is
unconscious and in the intensive care unit of the Universiti Kebangsaan
Malaysia medical hospital in Cheras this morning (10 Sept), within
hours after his counsel interrupted his sodomy trial this morning to allege
he had been systematically poisoned with arsenic. His family and counsel
had sent his urine, taken during his court appearances, and sent to
Melbourne for testing, and tests showed it to contain 230 micrograms of
arsenic. The acceptable level is 3 micrograms. The danger level is
17. This means he has 80 times more arsenic on him than is normal and 14
times higher than the danger level. When his counsel, Mr Karpal Singh,
announced this to a shocked court this morning, the Attorney-General,
Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah, was quick to suggest that the arsenic could
have come from food from his family. This is incorrect. The prison
regimen he undergoes is so strict that he is allowed no home cooked
food, is restricted to what the prison gives him, and is monitored by
four monitors in his cell that every action of his is monitored round
the clock. Why has not the government issued regular daily bulletins?
Why has the government radio and television stations not reporting the
matter as it should? Is that to be taken as an indication that there
is official collusion in this unfortunate episode?

The revelations three days before the Commonwealth Law Conference
on Monday focus discussions on Malaysia's violations of what is
acceptable legal procedure and behaviour in Common Law countries --
from allegations of lawyers writing judicial judgements of cases they are
interested in to the Chief Justice and Attorney-General going on
holiday with lawyers and judges quick to decide what the Executive would want.
Court cases this week gives a different hue to what is normal, and is
widely seen as an attempt at window dressing before the conference.
But the allegations about the slow poisoning of He Who Must Be Destroyed At
All Cost puts all these measures to nought. The ground reaction when
news of this spread like wildfire shortly after the judged ordered
Dato' Seri Anwar to hospital for further checks. Dato' Seri Anwar's
high-principled defiance of every Prime Ministerial attempt to destroy
or neutralise him gives him the edge in the larger political fight for
the Malay ground. It transpires that Dato' Seri Anwar had escaped four
assasination attempts before his fall from grace, and three more after
his arrest in September last year. Last year, his wife, Datin Seri Wan
Azizah Wan Ismail, had alleged of a plot to inject AIDS-infected blood
into him. But she and his supporters had expected an attempt on his
life without knowing how.

The government is in a pickle. He had had two thorough medical
checkups (which included DNA profiles done) in Germany and the United
States and of which the government was not aware of. That ruled out
AIDS and any diseases that could be contracted by the sodomy charge the
Prime Minister would like him to be convicted of, and, of course,
arsenic poisoning. Indeed, last year, when his blood was taken from
him against his will in detention, it did not show traces of arsenic. If it
had, the Government chemists, including the DNA expert who was not,
would have mentioned it. The arsenic appears to have entered the blood
stream after his detention and jailing in Sungei Buloh prison. The
current tests he will undergoe will re-examine his blood. But the sad
fact is that Malaysian institutions have been so devalued in this
political turf fight that any reading which contests the Melbourne
reading would not be accepted. The public perception blames the Prime
Minister for the current state of affairs. One can never be certain
who ordered arsenic be ingested into his body. But the superficial
evidence suggests that it happened in Sungei Buloh prison. That is the
responsibility of the Home Minister, the two of whom during his
detention being the Prime Minister and the deputy prime minister,
Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

This horrendous development cannot be pushed under the carpet.
Unlike the former Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, who
all but escaped the odium of having beaten up the deputy prime
minister to an inch of his life, the Prime Minister is obliged to produce a
high enough body to be mercilessly treated by the law. But who is that
going to be? Would the government charge him with attempted murder or
worse under the same security laws which hampered Dato' Seri Anwar's defence
in his corruption trial? What frightens one in the Anwar imbroglio is
the consistent missteps at every stage of the government's handling of
it. This was done so hamfistedly that the Malay ground deserts the
Prime Minister. His own cabinet would rather be dead than be seen
backing him openly. But Malaysian politics take one further step to
lawlessness. The government does not care what others think when
issues like this cloud Malaysia's credibility. The Prime Minister's bloodied
hand cannot be hidden much longer. He would need to offer in
expiation more of his supporters to the voracious crowd demanding blood adn well
as his head. That may not be enough. His, and his administration's,
almost supercilious response to every Anwar complaint in the past
year, makes him weaker by the day. Right now, a detailed response to what
happened to Dato' Seri Anwar should be available by Saturday evening.
The governor of Sungei Buloh must be suspended. A Royal Commission
like the one which investigated whether Dato' Seri Anwar had been
beaten up by the Inspector-General of police should be constituted without
further ado, with work starting immediately. Much as the government
would like to see Dato' Seri Anwar neutered in politics, it is not its business
to make sure he is dead.

M.G.G. Pillai

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