People like to say Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is willing to do anything to gain power. He's an unscrupulous man who won't stop at anything to become the next prime minister; every move he makes is calculated. Maybe this is right.
But what I cannot understand then is why, if he wants power so badly and calculates his moves so precisely, he would be so stupid as to commit sodomy — especially a person who gives off disinterested vibes? Why molest Saiful Bukhari Azlan if there is even a hint of being found out? Why wreck your chances of becoming prime minister?
Look at it objectively: let’s say, you're a homosexual, or at least bisexual. You stand on the cusp of becoming the most powerful man in the country. Everything is going your way. As long as you can stare the government down, they will blink eventually, their house of cards will fall, and you or someone very close to you (your wife?) will become the next prime minister.
Now, you're in this position because you're not exactly stupid. You know how to rouse public sentiment, and you know how to push particular issues which will endear you to the masses. You might not believe what you say, but you'll say it, because you're willing to put power above your own beliefs.
This is what we're supposed to think Anwar is — a serial sodomite poised to take power riding on his charisma and shrewd lies. You have a right to believe this; I think this is a really twisted way of describing Anwar, but it's a reasonably understandable perspective, given the facts available to the public. Well, understandable, except for one little contradiction.
Why on earth, if you believe you can be the most powerful man in the land in a matter of months or even years, would you rape someone now? You're not stupid, mind. You were caught before, sodomising your driver and stepbrother. Are you going to make exactly the same mistake again, after spending 10 years to climb back to your position of bakal perdana menteri?
Assuming Anwar is as corrupt and power-hungry as we're supposed to believe he is, we have to believe he is willing to avoid joining Umno, avoid taking a huge pay-off he would surely get for acquiescing to the powers that be, and stay clean while pretending to fight for what is right, just for the sake of power. But if we believe this, why would he let all his efforts go to waste by sodomising some guy?
It doesn't jibe; either Anwar is a man who will go all out to obtain power, or he is a man willing to give up his shot at power — something he needed 10 years to reclaim — for the sake of a little non-consensual and illegal fun. Something does not seem right here.
Oh yes, you can go ahead and make further uncharitable assumptions about Anwar. Maybe he's cynically done all this because he's betting nobody will buy the charges against him, regardless of what the courts say, since the courts and our whole justice system are, after all, conveniently rigged in favour of the authorities. But I don't think we have the right to proceed on the basis of groundless hypotheses.
You can come up with a thousand conspiracy theories to fit the facts, after all, and most of them are just about equally plausible. I don't think we have the right to pronounce Anwar guilty without even giving him a trial. His critics love to dwell on the fact that the judges who overturned his conviction felt he was indeed a sodomite; they ignore that those same judges agreed there is reasonable doubt as to whether Anwar actually did commit sodomy.
I wish I could be as optimistic as many of our leaders, from both the BN and PR, appear to be when it comes to the justice system. But the fact is, it is hard to believe that Anwar will get a fair hearing, whether or not he actually committed anal rape.
This is the same fellow who has gone on the record accusing the current Inspector-General of Police and Defence Minister of shocking crimes; considering that some policemen are hard-pressed enough to accept bribes of RM2 (in coins), it is impossible to believe that Anwar will get fair and professional treatment from our police force. It is difficult to see how he will get a fair hearing with the shocking revelations from people like Anwar himself and Justice Ian Chin about the state of our judiciary.
A famous legal adage is that justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done. We may not like it, but should the court of public opinion acquit Anwar in spite of a guilty verdict, the fault lies with our law enforcement and judicial institutions for failing to convince the public that he is guilty.
The honour and respectability of our institutions already lie in tatters. I hope we can come up with better smears and better conspiracy theories than the notion that Anwar is at the same time both calculatingly power-hungry and carelessly impatient. If our government wants to put forth a lie and put the final nail in our institutions' coffin, I hope they will at least be prudent enough to make it a good one; if they have found the truth, I hope they will be honest and wise enough to let our institutions and laws do their job, rather than make a mockery of the legal process.
John Lee is a second-year student of economics at Dartmouth College in the United States. He has been thinking aloud since 2005 at www.infernalramblings.com.