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Kedah MB defends speech, raises issues on Anwar's sodomy convictions and pardon

In his defence against a defamation suit by the prime minister, Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor says he was only stating facts that are public knowledge.

Staff Writers
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Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (left) and Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (left) and Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor.

Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has defended his remarks against Anwar Ibrahim made during the general election last year, citing publicly available court documents and judgments on past criminal cases involving the prime minister.

Sanusi is being sued for his speech in which he referred to the two sodomy convictions of the PKR leader.

Anwar, in his statement of claim, said Sanusi's speech had accused him of being corrupt, a hypocrite, a manipulator and a criminal despite a royal pardon which lifted his sodomy conviction.

The PKR chief served four years in prison before his early release days after the 2018 general election.

Sanusi said his statements were based on public knowledge of the charges slapped against Anwar in 1999, a year after his dramatic sacking from the government by then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar was sentenced to six years by the Kuala Lumpur High Court in April of that year. 

"In summary, the charges faced by the plaintiff (Anwar) stated that the plaintiff, while serving as a member of the administration, wrongfully used his public office for his personal interests by ordering two high-ranking police officers to obtain four written statements from Azizan Abu Bakar and Ummi Hafilda Ali to refute allegations of sexual misconduct and sodomy against the plaintiff, with the aim of saving the plaintiff from embarrassment and criminal allegations contrary to the ordinance," Sanusi said in his statement of defence filed last month.

Sanusi added that a series of appeals by Anwar to overturn the conviction ended in failure with the Federal Court upholding it in 2002.

Sanusi then recalled the sodomy charges against Anwar and his former driver Azizan Abu Bakar, also known as Sodomy I, for which Anwar was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment in 2001.

He said despite the Federal Court allowing the appeal against the sodomy conviction, the judges clearly stated that the PKR leader was involved in homosexual activities.

"To summarise our judgment, even though reading the appeal record, we find evidence to confirm that the appellants were involved in homosexual activities and we are more inclined to believe that the alleged incident at Tivoli Villa did happen, sometime, this court, as a court of law, may only convict the appellants if the prosecution successfully proved the alleged offences as stated in the charges, beyond reasonable doubt, on admissible evidence and in accordance with established principles of law," Sanusi quoted a passage from the judgement by then Federal Court judge Abdul Hamid Mohamad.

He said Hamid reaffirmed this in a 2018 article, adding that he and fellow judge Tengku Baharuddin freed Anwar not because they did not believe he committed sodomy but because the admissible evidence as required by law was not adequate.

He said Anwar, in 2014, attempted to strike out the passage but failed. 

"To this day, the statement remains a permanent record in the full judgement of the Federal Court against the plaintiff in relation to the Sodomy I charge," Sanusi added.

In early 2014, Anwar failed in his appeal at the Federal Court to quash his conviction for a second sodomy charge, known as Sodomy II.

Royal pardon

Anwar was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for the charge, but was freed in June 2018 following a royal pardon by the Agong at the time, Sultan Muhammad V.

Sanusi, in his defence statement, highlighted several issues surrounding the royal pardon.

He said the Appeals Board had convened on May 16, 2018 without the presence of at least two members: the attorney-general at that time, Mohamed Apandi Ali, and the federal territories minister, who had yet to be appointed.

Sanusi also said the manner in which the royal pardon was granted had been criticised by former Federal Court judge Hamid, who questioned why the Agong at the time had given the perception that the pardon application would be approved.

He said in December last year, Anwar himself told the Dewan Rakyat that he had been contacted by the Agong while still serving his jail sentence.

Sanusi in his defence said he had only stated what was already publicly known about Anwar, adding that the royal pardon was also specifically for Sodomy II.

He said as a politician, Anwar should not be "thin-skinned" in dealing with critics, especially since he himself had made what he described as "false accusations" against other parties.

"Therefore, it is unreasonable and surprising for a politician such as the plaintiff, who likes to accuse other politicians with words such as 'thief', 'stupid' and many others, to be sensitive when the opponent gives comments and criticisms based on his background which is already public knowledge," he added.

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