By David Rood
MALAYSIAN opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has accused Kevin Rudd of appeasing Malaysia’s ”corrupt leaders” in the continuing fallout from the Prime Minister’s decision not to meet Mr Anwar.
Mr Anwar, who is in Melbourne to speak at the Parliament of World Religions, said Mr Rudd was acting in the interests of diplomacy but the snub was unwise and ignored the importance of ethics and morality.
”He was too obsessed with interests of getting the two countries together [and therefore] appease Malaysia’s corrupt leaders,” he said.
On a visit to Malaysia in July last year, Mr Rudd praised the country as a ”vibrant” and ”flourishing” democracy, while the country was gripped by allegations of vote-rigging and corruption.
But the Prime Minister adhered to usual protocols by not meeting with Mr Anwar.
”To use terms like ‘robust democracy’ when the entire battle is against an authoritarian order with all the institutions being corrupt or compromised, that is, of course, an issue,” Mr Anwar said yesterday.
”What is worse is when the ruling party establishment highlighted this statement [by Mr Rudd] and used it in their campaign against us.”
Mr Anwar said he had not sought a meeting with Mr Rudd on this visit to Australia but recently met Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.
He said the Malaysian political system was fundamentally flawed, with police intimidation and no freedom of the press.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court recently rejected an application to have a fresh charge of sodomy against Mr Anwar dismissed.
He said the ”trumped-up” charges were a blatant disregard for the law and an abuse of political power, with medical experts saying there was no case.
He is accused of sodomising a male former aide, even though there is no evidence of penetration. Mr Anwar was released from prison five years ago after sodomy charges were overturned.
He was critical of Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan, questioning whether anything had been learnt from the experience of the first Gulf War. ”We consider that a colossal blunder on the part of President Bush, why do you need to repeat that in Afghanistan?” he said.
”Continuing military occupation of a foreign country – including in this case Afghanistan – cannot be condoned.”
In his conference talk on democracy and diversity, Mr Anwar said democracy could not be forced and must be indigenous with time to mature.
Mr Anwar has also called on Australia to send observers to Malaysia’s next election.