WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Monday warned Malaysia must be careful that the high profile prosecution of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim does not have a “chilling effect” on democracy.
Hosting a group of young leaders from ASEAN countries at the White House, Obama was asked about the case of former deputy prime minister Ibrahim, who was jailed on much-criticized sodomy charges.
“Malaysia has a history of democracy that has to be preserved,” Obama said.
“It is important that if an opposition leader who is well known has been charged with a crime, that that process of how that is adjudicated and how open it is and how clear the evidence is, that is all subject to scrutiny.”
“What you don’t want is a situation in which the legitimacy of the process is questioned, that has an adverse impact on democracy as a whole.”
- Anwar was jailed in February for five years on charges that he sodomized a former male aide, a case he says was fabricated by the government.
- The prison term threatens to permanently end the 68-year-old’s political career.
Obama said everyone should be “making sure that there is not a chilling effect on potential opposition”
“You have to respect the rights of even those people who you disagree most with, because otherwise there is no way a democracy can flourish over the long term.”
Source: - AFP