KUALA LUMPUR (dpa) – Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim polarises opinion in Malaysia.
His detractors see him as a sodomite and an ambitious political opportunist.
But for his followers, Anwar, 67, is a democracy icon who could lead Malaysia to greater prosperity.
He espoused free market policies while part of the cabinet when he was a member of the ruling party and, as an opposition leader, called for graft to be stamped out and for reforms to the political system and racial policies that favour the Malay ethnic majority.
Anwar was born in 1947 in a small town in the northern state of Penang to a local hospital porter, who later became involved in politics and retired as parliamentary secretary in the Health Ministry.
He read Malay studies at university in the 1970s when he became a radical student leader who defaced English-language signs at the University of Malaya.
He was detained without trial under the Internal Security Act as a younger man.
The father of his future wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, initially opposed their relationship.
“When he was courting her, it was quite controversial because my grandfather was attached to the [police] special branch,” said his eldest daughter, Nurul Izzah.
In 1982, he joined the ruling National Front and rose quickly through the ranks.
He became the culture, youth and sports minister in 1983, was named agriculture minister in 1984 and took over the education portfolio two years later.
He was appointed finance minister and deputy prime minister in the 1990s by prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, and their relationship was likened to that of a father and son.
Anwar was expected to succeed Mahathir, but the two became embroiled in an acrimonious fight over financial and economic policies during the 1997 Asian financial crisis that eventually led to Anwar being stripped of all government and party posts.
Mahathir accused Anwar of trying to seize power at the time and has since charged him with being power-hungry.
Since his ouster from the ruling party, Anwar has been tried twice for sodomy and once for corruption.
He and his followers called the charges politically motivated.
His first sodomy conviction was eventually quashed on appeal.
He was acquitted of a second sodomy charge in 2012, but the prosecution appealed, and a higher court found him guilty and sentenced him to five years in prison.
The Federal Court upheld his conviction Tuesday.
He now heads the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance. Although it did not win 2008 general elections, it deprived the ruling National Front of its two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time.
In the 2013 elections, the opposition won 52.62 per cent of votes nationwide, but the National Front retained its majority in the 222-member Parliament, taking 133 seats and maintaining its now 57-year hold on the country.
KUALA LUMPUR (dpa) – Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in March, a conviction upheld by the Federal court Tuesday.
The following is a chronology of the major events in the trial:
June 29, 2008: Saiful Bukhary Azlan, a 23-year-old male aide to Anwar, lodges a police report saying that his employer sodomised him, which Anwar denies.
July 16, 2008: Police arrest Anwar.
August 7, 2008: Anwar pleads not guilty to “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”
February 3, 2010: The case opens in the High Court. Anwar maintains the charges are a political manoeuvre against his increasingly popular opposition alliance.
June 6, 2011: The court dismisses for the third time Anwar’s request to have the judge disqualified for biased handling of the case.
August 22, 2011: Anwar gives his testimony, and reiterates his not-guilty plea, calling the allegation a “blatant and vicious lie.”
January 9, 2012: Not guilty verdict handed down by the High Court due to a lack of evidence.
July 2, 2013: The office of the Attorney General appeals the non-guilty verdict before the appeals court.
March 7, 2014: The appeals court rules that Anwar was guilty of sodomising his former aide, reversing the January 9, 2012 decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court. It jails him for five years, but he is allowed out on bail pending appeal.
October 28, 2014: Anwar begins his final appeal in the Federal Court against his conviction.
November 7, 2014: The Federal Court hears the closing arguments of the prosecution and defence panels on Anwar appeal.
February 10, 2015: Federal Court upholds Anwar’s sodomy conviction.