Nearly two years ago, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN, National Front) narrowly won reelection under prime minister Najib Razak.
At the time, there was a strong argument that, notwithstanding several problems with Malaysia’s legal and electoral system, Najib probably did command something close to a mandate over the opposition, Pakatan Rakyat (PR, People’s Alliance) coalition.
Despite a strong fight by Pakatan Rakyat and its leader, Anwar Ibrahim, there was a clear case that Najib, just as his predecessors Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Mahathir Mohamad, could count on just enough ethnic Malay votes to secure victory, even while ethnic Chinese, ethnic Indians and a growing number of young, urban voters of all ethnicities backed an increasingly competitive People’s Alliance. Though there was always more than a shadow of a doubt about the legitimacy of the Barisan Nasional‘s victory, it was credible enough to believe that Pakatan Rakyat simply fell short.
But since that election, Anwar’s persecution, prosecution and, now, conviction on sodomy charges throws much of that in doubt, alongside any notion that Malaysia operates under any recognizable rule of law. An appeals court affirmed Anwar’s sodomy conviction and five-year prison sentence earlier this week. Continue reading Anwar sodomy verdict casts doubt on Malaysian rule of law