As legal counsel for Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI), we are of the view that the reporting of the story in the media in particular reference to DSAI’s ongoing criminal trial is clearly subjudice and may constitute contempt of court. Commenting on the evidence and the making and publication of statements that relate to the alleged guilt is strictly prohibited. It impinges on the integrity of the trial and the Judge is duty bound to protect the sanctity of the trial especially from non participants in the criminal justice system, in this case, the media.
We as lawyers would not take issue with political exposures but in this instance the media reports have hit at the heart of the trial and hence we are most concerned. Judges are human. More so our client is a high profile politician and the perception of the public is paramount.
It is most regrettable that the local media chose to rely on reports and publish matters that are unsubstantiated, based on hearsay and conjectures. Up to this moment, our checks with our counterparts and various sources have indicated that no such references were made by Wikileaks and more so, the specific allegations as reportedly published in the Sun Herald (Sydney Morning Herald) which is purported to have first broken the story. This has further enhanced our view that the press, in particular the New Straits Times (at page 4 of the Prime News column) and the Front page (headlines) in the Utusan Malaysia newspapers has deliberately skewed the reporting on DSAI and focused on DSAI alone and conveniently left out all the serious allegations against PM Najib and others. Clearly this two Umno-owned newspapers have explicit sinister motives and have practised irresponsible journalism.
To the allegation that “it was a set-up job and he probably knew that, but walked into it anyway” as was supposedly quoted by the media, our simple answer to that is: which man in his sane and right mind would deliberately walk into a trap if he has prior knowledge of it. It is a totally illogical and completely nonsensical notion. At this point, it is material to note that at that time DSAI was riding high on the back of an unprecedented electoral gain. Note that DSAI was already aware of something sinister when alluded to it in a Malaysiakini interview he gave on 3 July 2008 (copy of the same is attached) where he replied to a question posed: “Weeks before that, I was alerted that the IGP (Inspector-General of police, Musa Hassan) was concocting something, and that was five days or six days before someone came to convey to me that this was serious. Well, this was conveyed to me and I thought how they would allow the issues of '98 to resurface”.
De facto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim today revealed that the threat on his life was serious enough for someone to give him a bullet-proof vest.
While he denied that he wore the bullet-proof vest at the 10,000-strong rally in Kampung Baru on April 14, Anwar said his wife, PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail ticked him off for not taking such threats more seriously.
"Azizah is, of course, very annoyed with me. She said, 'Please take precautions.' I promised her, yes, I will do it probably at public functions when necessary," he told Malaysiakini in a 30-minute interview this morning at the PKR headquarters.
He however pointed out that even a bullet-proof car failed to stop the assassination of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.
"I go through every single detail, it is the nature of the job, for example, ... in minute detail even the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, you'll be surprised - not as a journalist - just to see how they could do it. Look, she was in a bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof car. So..."
Anwar said that given his experience a decade ago when he was savagely beaten after he was arrested, there is legitimate fear that it could happen again.
"I went through it, I know what it is. If you were to arrested today, for example, I'm not saying that nothing would happen, I wouldn't know. To me, it almost impossible, it's incredulous to imagine that..."
When asked what he thought of the assurance of his personal safety given by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, this was what Anwar had to say.
"Well, the prime minister is a nice man, he says many things but I don't know who will take him seriously. Look he says, "Well, we will give them protection." I know Saiful has been given police protection 24 hours a day. Did you see any of them here? Not that I want police around me."
Tell us what happened from the time you heard about the police report made by Saiful to the time you came out from the Turkish embassy.
Weeks before that I was alerted that the IGP (inspector-general of police Musa Hassan) was concocting something, and that was five days or six days before someone came to convey to me that this was serious. Well, this was conveyed to me and I thought how they would allow the issues of '98 to resurface.
At that time, did you have any inkling that it could be something similar to the accusations...
Yes, yes. They said it was something to the effect. The information of this very senior (police officer) used the word zalim - the fact that it was cruel and unjust, that's why it was conveyed to me.
The following morning I called my staff - the senior staff and also part-time volunteers including Saiful - they were all in. I said, "You guys better watch out. There is going to be problems ahead. This is coming from IGP's office, the IGP personally."
Interestingly enough, later one of my staff informed me that Saiful personally called Musa Hassan to inform him (that I spoke about problems ahead) about the meeting. Then I took it seriously, but it was a bit too late.
Saiful at that time was still working with you?
Yes, yes. It is really, as you say, a breach of security. The three main staff - Nik Nazmi (Nik Ahmad), Sim (Tze Tzin) and Nurul Izzah (Anwar) - left to contest in the elections. Rahimi (Osman) was holding the fort. And of course Syed Husin (Ali) in the office, Ibrahim (Yaacob) and Din Merican.
The first to go around to contact the states and divisions, that was Rahimi. Then he brought in Saiful at the last moment as a volunteer. Saiful approached me, although he was known to be in Biro Tatanegara (civic consciousness bureau) and an Umno outfit before that.
I didn't know, he actually started off as a driver, bringing even (former Anwar political secretary) Nasharuddin (Jalil)'s son (Salman) who was killed in a (hit and run) road accident - that's still questionable until now. The case is closed. I want to reopen the case - the circumstances of the 'murder' or the death is still very questionable.
So later on, Rahimi was using Saiful a bit more, there were two of them. Then I had Sim to come back and we had another person, Farhash (Wafa Salvador) who just came back from London but because of the transition - that was it.
But I didn't know about his (Saiful's) connection. Because there were so many emails from his old friends attacking him, I called him in, "What's this?". He said, "Sir, swear to God, it was my connection with Najib's outfit when I was in Uniten (Universiti Tenaga Nasional) and then some of them became my personal friends". I said, "Okay". We actually take things a bit easy.
But anyway, that night I was in Quality (Hotel), I heard about it early enough I think it was a leak from the police not from the hospital. You see it could all be orchestrated by the police but always when you see Musa is consulted, he'll say Bukit Aman does not want to get involved and they will not want to take the police report. This all shows the sign that the police are not part of it. It's a deliberate design to say the police are not involved.
Anyway, when we got the wind of it, it was almost Maghrib (7.30pm). Almost Maghrib time or before Maghrib time if I'm not mistaken. Very soon. Immediately after when he (Saiful) was on the way to the hospital.
So you suspected that Saiful had gone to the police station and the police brought him to the hospital.
Yes, that seems to be sequence now. But we have to get the correct defence in the event this moves forward. I don't understand how they are going to do it - trying to establish what happened, what didn't happen. How can they concoct (the alleged sodomy) with all this media scrutiny. Unlike in the past, there is certainly a little more (scrutiny).
So I sense now there is a deliberate attempt on the part of government leaders to say, "Well, just leave it to the police, it's nothing political." Our worry is also leaving it to the police.
Now today, I'm calling a press conference on something very revealing in the Altantuya case which shows the same pattern of the IGP and AG (attorney-general) either fabricating or concealing evidence. So you see the same pattern from 1998 to Altantuya case to my case and of course, of hundreds if not thousands of cases.
Even here in this case, the moment Najib's name is mentioned - delete. In this case for Altantuya, I will show you clear evidence how evidence given to the police, all these things were deleted even in the 112 statement (sworn witness statements to the police).
We will leave that to the press conference.
Then I alerted the whole (party) leadership, Azizah and the whole family were here, the Quality Inn or Quality Hotel, then this Chong said, "You may have to leave" (for some place safe). I was very reluctant so I kept on ignoring it, talking about some other subjects.
Then they started, (Syed) Husin decided to convene a separate political bureau meeting to come out with a strong recommendation. I told Syed Husin, "Let me think about it. People may interpret it as running away or seeking political asylum." Then of course, we started communicating with the relevant parties.
And Azizah said, "What will happen if they come in?"So you were worried about the 1998 situation where you were arrested straight away.
Arrested is something else. I'm not as worried about being arrested as being assaulted, and you know, accident or food, poison - I don't rule (them) out because we know what is at stake - you see, we come out with the whole transition (to new government), the numbers we are talking about, so some of them are just really against it, the fear.
Can you imagine the position of the IGP and AG - I know the bitterness, the worry, it's there. Although I did convey, I did actually deliberately send out messages even to them - and say "Look, I'm here in this country, take care". Many of them know me well. Don't continue provoking us.
So I decided then the morning after prayers that I will go now.
Early in the morning?
Very early in the morning. The security guys have experience in this. I have said no right through until 6 o'clock, then I left. Very smart... [laughs]
So I left and went straight (to the Turkish embassy). The ambassador was there waiting. I went in. I had breakfast and then I went to sleep.
Did you sleep that night?
No, about half an hour, an hour, because they were all there coming back and forth - the legal team, the security, issues. Because I didn't know what it was all about, in detail, where, and things like that.
At the embassy, the ambassador was called up by (Foreign Minister) Rais (Yatim) and given very strong assurance for my personal safety. There was (Home Minister Syed) Hamid (Albar)'s statement, (Deputy Prime Minister) Najib (Razak)'s statement, although Najib's statement said 'leave it to the police', so it's a bit tricky. Anyone who said leave it to Musa Hassan, I think there is a big question mark.
But then, that was it. The moment we've all the statements, making explicit about my personal security then I told the ambassador, I think I'd leave.
I don't feel comfortable (staying in the embassy) because a lot of things you're not able to do. Unless you decide to seek political asylum, that's normal. If you don't, you have to be with your people, you have to plan, listen to them, you have to start meeting people. Were you convinced by party leaders to go to the embassy or was that your own decision?
Of course, I do take into consideration what Azizah and the family say. She is okay with the whole political situation. To deal with the malicious attacks, she is quite used to it. But to imagine another major assault on my personal safety, I saw her (face), it was very real.
She said, pleading, "Anwar, please, it is something beyond us." The security situation is beyond us.
It is so serious that even people brought me in the last few months, a bullet-proof vest. Where you wearing one on April 14 (the Kampung Baru rally)?
No. I was given one. Have you actually worn one?
You know, not that I'm arrogant or impervious to this reality, I'm fully aware (of the situation). I go through every single detail, it is the nature of the job. Even the minute detail even the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, you'll be surprised - not as a journalist - just to see how they could do it. Look she was in a bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof car.
But Azizah is, of course, very annoyed with me. She said, "Please take precautions." I promise her, yes, I will do it probably at public functions when necessary.How credible are these threats?
Unlike these normal cases of threats from individuals, but here I have some intelligence reports - police and military intelligence. It's not new. (Kulim MP) Zulkifli Nordin said you also have information from a neighbouring country's intelligence.
Well, neighbouring countries do express concern even on issues of national security. When did you first hear about a possible attempt on your life?
This has been going on for some time but I think it has increased in the last few months, particular just before and after the elections. Why did you reveal it now at this stage with the accusations of sodomy? Why now? Why didn't you reveal it during the elections?
I did. I made a lot, some references to that on my personal security. It has been picked up (by the media). But I didn't want (to raise it) before the elections - all is political to them. Even the comment that "well, he will be safe". Even the fact that the IGP, they just completely ignored (the threats) when it (the black eye incident) happened, they kept quiet including people like Shahrir (Abdul Samad), they just dismissed it (the threats).
I went through, I know what it is. If you were to arrest me now today, for example, I'm not saying that nothing would happen, I wouldn't know. To me, it almost impossible, it's incredulous to imagine that.How do you see the prime minister's assurances that you would not be 'di zalimi'?
Well, the prime minister is a nice man, he says many things but I don't know who will take him seriously. Look he says, "Well, we will give them protection." I know Saiful has been given police protection 24 hours a day. Did you see any of them here? Not that I want police around me. So you're not asking for police protection?
No. "We will give protection to both of them." What protection can you see? Nothing. I don't know whether he is aware of what's happening. And then he dismissed summarily the possibility of anybody involved. He has not even read our statement. He has not even read the SD (statutory statement).
I have at least a statement confirming the phone call between Saiful and Musa Hassan. Can you imagine to say there's no arrangement when he (Saiful) was there in the (Najib's) office? You just can't dismiss it. At least investigate it.
Yesterday evening, a very senior policeman said that in all investigations, you also need to investigate the motive, the personality involved, who is he? His background, the motive. Nothing of that has happened.
Not that I want to (take issue with this). You see, normally I want to avoid talking about the issue. I will deal with it at the right time. If I do entertain this, then I'm trapped - their strategy is to deflect from other overall issues.
With regards to Singapore, it is pertinent that we have to first establish that the Singapore Minister Mentor or their officials has indeed made such statements as reported. In this respect we have contacted the Singapore High Commission for a response yesterday.
Sankara N Nair
S N Nair & Partners
Legal Counsel for DSAI
13 December 2010