A comprehensive consideration scintillatingly written of Dr. Munawar Anees’ legal battle to clear his name in the Malaysian courtrooms and is left with what passes off for Justice in Malaysia – Injustice. This article is published in two parts and the concluding part will be published tomorrow.
Dr. Munawar Anees is, and has always been, a full blooded heterosexual with a wife and two lovely children. His only mistake in life was to be associated with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as his speech writer and friend. A person Anwar could bounce ideas off and expect an intelligent response. Who would ever have anticipated the repercussions of this ‘indiscretion’ in light of the turmoil this has caused Munawar for the past 12 years? The events which have taken place over this period surely make for a great plot in a far-fetched and surrealistic novel authored by someone with a mind for the fantastic. But sometimes fact does indeed turn out to be stranger than fiction, especially when it is interposed with the coarse machinations of a third world despotic regime and a politically compliant judiciary.
Munawar has already logged the circumstances leading to his conviction for a charge of sodomy in an exhaustive and very detailed account of the obvious complicity between the police, the prosecution, the so called defence and the judiciary in securing his conviction at all costs. This detailed story is contained in his exhaustive 205 paragraph statutory declaration which is available here. I need not elaborate. It makes sickening reading.
The conspirators thought they had their job done, and done well. Immediately after Munawar’s conviction at the Sessions Court, Kuala Lumpur, they rubbed their hands together in glee and walked away as Munawar was shackled and escorted to the Kajang Prison to serve his 6 month sentence. What they didn’t anticipate were two things. One, Munawar’s admission to the Cardiac Care Unit of the Hospital Kuala Lumpur and secondly, the arrival on the scene of the fearless Mr. Manjeet Singh Dhillon, Barrister extraordinaire and champion of the underdog.
When this happened, the conspirators went into a tail spin from which they could theoretically never have recovered if it were not for their friends and co-conspirators on the Bench.
It is a basic principle of any civilized battle that the two warring factions are guided by a set of rules enforceable by a referee. However mayhem ensues when this arbiter of fair play decides, for some reason or another, that his judicial sentiments are to be less than objective and ought to lie lopsided in favour of not so unseen and powerful personalities whose interests are to be protected at any cost.
So as Munawar lay in his hospital bed recovering from an exhausted heart and as Manjeet was preparing the requisite voluminous paperwork associated with a formal appeal to a higher Court in the hope this calamity of injustice could be rectified in the appropriate way, the conspirators, in their state of panic, were accosting Munawar as he lay in his sick bed. They wanted Manjeet out of the picture. They wanted the status quo to be preserved. They needed Munawar’s conviction for ulterior purposes. They needed to nail Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim to the wall and what better way to do this than produce a compliant complainant before the Court in which Anwar was being charged for a similar offence. Bingo. They thought they had it all organized and zipped up so much so they were confident enough to arrange the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim the evening following Munawar’s conviction.
But that damned last number just wouldn’t come up. Manjeet headed off the onslaught with his inimitable ferocity born of the generations of ancestral Greek warriors and that special blood which coursed through his veins. They finally gave up and retreated with their tails between their legs.
It was obvious Munawar was going to be a non-starter as a witness in Anwar’s case. Another fall guy had to be secured and fast. They had also lost Sukma because that other Sikh warrior disguised as a lawyer, The Right Honourable Mr. Karpal Singh MP, had already swooped in and scooped up Sukma from the ruins of another sodomous farce in which Anwar was accused of playing a major, if not active role, and in which Sukma was supposedly designated the passive participant, not dissimilar to Munawar’s alleged indiscretions.
The same modus operandi had been affected in securing a ‘confession’ from Sukma at the same time Munawar was being coerced to cooperate with their shenanigans. Both were charged with being the victims of Anwar’s ubiquitous rapes of his subordinates, at the same time on the same day in the KL Sessions Court, albeit in different Court rooms. The ‘victims’ of these supposed ‘rapes’ were being charged. The perpetrator of these heinous crimes against humanity and the order of nature was in the meantime being prepared for a tsunami of charges involving a variety of conjured up victims who were unfortunately slowly beginning not to play ball and ruining the plot in the process.
In any best devised plan there is always a cock up. It’s called ‘Murphy’s Law’. If anything can go wrong it will. In this case everything began to fall apart because the Sikh-Greek warriors were parachuted in.
So another scapegoat had to be found and fast. There were two possible players. The first being the infamous ‘no, Anwar did not sodomize me x 3’ driver aka Azizan, and the other Anwar’s tennis partner and long time friend Mr. Nallakaruppan.
Some may call it ‘hedging one’s bets’ or ‘casting the net far and wide’. Whatever interpretation one puts on the unfolding events at that time, it would have been insufficient to describe the delinquent attempts at perverting the course of justice by the contemporaneous action of the police and the prosecutors as anything less than shameful.
Old Nalla was in a tight spot. He was unfortunately Anwar’s friend. Even more unfortunately, he was found with some bullets in his safe at home. These bullets didn’t match the gun for which he was licenced to possess. They were the bullets which belonged to his old gun. He didn’t have this old gun anymore but this did not deter the police and the prosecutors from concluding that he posed a severe threat to the nation as he could potentially throw these bullets at people he didn’t care for and they could have caused some minor bruising as a result. This is a serious offence in Malaysia. Only a little more serious than sexual gratification in contravention of archaic standards of interpretation of the God given word called ‘nature’. Therefore this offence (potential bullet throwing) attracted nothing less than the death penalty once a finding of guilt was made, which would have been a foregone conclusion bearing in mind the complicity of the prosecutor, the police and the Judge, again.
What this pack of conspirators did not anticipate was the fact that two members of the flying squadron of Sikh lawyers, none other than Manjeet Singh Dhillon and Balwant Singh Sidhu were also tasked with the job of defending Nalla against these spurious charges. And this is where the fun began. These miscreants were no match for Manjeet and Balwant.
The plan of action had always been to get Nalla to confess to supplying women of disrepute to meet the sexual fantasies of the homosexually orientated Anwar Ibrahim. What a stud. Young and old men were not enough to satiate his desires. He had to have women as well. And Viagra hadn’t even been invented yet.
Being the reasonable lawyer Manjeet is, he trotted off to the Attorney General’s office to try and see if he could get the prosecutors to see reason. He felt a rap on the knuckles would be sufficient to deter Nalla from any future indiscretion in relation to dud bullets kept in his safe and that hanging by his neck until he was dead was a little ‘over the top’.
Manjeet was pleasantly surprised to find the prosecutors amenable to a discussion. Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Gani Patail, was in top form. He made it known to Manjeet, in no uncertain terms, that he could quite easily arrange a rather soft rap on the knuckles in exchange for Nalla’s confession that he did arrange women for Anwar. When Manjeet explained to old Gani that this would not be possible as it was a lie, Gani told Manjeet that was not their concern as all they wanted was the confession whether it was true or not.
Having got nowhere with reasonable trading, Manjeet left the AG’s office on his Norton 500cc with back pack securely fastened to his torso, for in this piece of luggage was a tape recorder with a perfect audio recording of the conversation he had with Gani. In any civilized nation, this would have been the last nail in the coffin of Gani Patail’s career. Not so in Malaysia. Gani Patail is now the Attorney General and the lawyer who used the contents of this tape recording in Anwar’s trial, Zainur Zakaria, was sentenced to jail for contempt of Court. Why? Because he wanted the Court to get rid of Mr. Patail from the prosecuting team. Fair request one may think. You broke the rules so you should be sent off on a red card. But the umpire sent off the wrong player! The guy who fouled was still on the pitch!
Yes, but, we are an independent nation now. We have struggled to rid ourselves of the shackles of British colonialism. We now look East instead of towards the setting sun. We no longer require the archaic principles of ancient British law to guide us any longer. We are capable of creating our own common law to suit our own culture and our own traditions and our own way of life. Why should we prostrate ourselves in subservience to life guiding principles devised from hundreds of years of scribed experience and philosophy in dispute resolution? We have our own way of doing things here in Malaysia and that is why we told the Privy Council to go to hell.
With these sentiments foremost in the minds of those of us who matter, the rules of the game were amended to accommodate the desired result. ‘Amended’ is a rather inappropriate description of the excruciatingly blatant twists and turns and the very dubious legal gymnastics deployed to secure a conviction of Anwar Ibrahim at any and all costs. The law books were all hurled out the Court room windows and the Judge transformed himself into a pseudo legal pugilist with the defence team as his punching bag.
When the blood bath ended, Anwar was in jail for 6 years and Mahathir could continue governing the country His way and without distraction. It mattered not what the rest of the world thought of him. Sticks and stones could have broken his bones but words would never have hurt him. He was back firmly entrenched in the driver’s seat rapidly heading for hell with a gunny sack full of black sin.
Meanwhile back at the proverbial ranch, a disenchanted Munawar had put into play his attempts to vindicate himself of all the rubbish that had been piled on him by the guardians of public well being . Remember the story of the prosecutor, the defence lawyer, the police and the Judge all working blatantly in cohorts to secure Munawar’s conviction of an offence he never committed? Well let’s continue from there.
What happened after the Sessions Court conviction
While Munawar was lying in his sick bed at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital Cardiac Care Unit, he was in fact still in prison serving his 6 month sentence for allowing Anwar to have his way with him, even though he didn’t, but when the law says you did, who are you to argue this with?
A Judge of the High Court of course.
When Munawar was charged in the Sessions Court for having carnal knowledge with Anwar against the order of nature, he was supposed to have been the subservient party, if you get the drift. The fact sheet tendered to Court was rather extensive and detailed. Munawar’s uninvited counsel, Mr. Yacob Karim, devoted much time in mitigation, to describing why Munawar allowed this to happen and the reasons put forth were basically that Anwar was a man of influence and Munawar depended on him for his livelihood. This part in effect demonstrated some resilience to active participation.
Any Judge in his or her right thinking judicial mind ought to have been put on alert by this, and should have asked himself or herself whether the ingredients of the offence being admitted to had been established, before passing sentence. It behoves any Judge in similar circumstances to question the prosecution and the defence about the bona fides of the charge and the accuseds’ plea of guilt, irrespective of whether the accused agrees to a conviction because not all accused persons are conversant with the intricacies of the Penal Code and the ingredients that go to make up each individual offence therein and that is why there is a ‘Judge’. A Judge is not an extension of the Public Prosecutors office. A judge is a fair minded unbiased personality whose sole interests in proceedings of this nature are to ensure justice and fair play.
On the face of the record, Munawar was alluding to the fact that he had been coerced into performing this ‘illegal’ act and therefore ought to have been treated as a victim of homosexual rape. This was tantamount to charging a victim of rape for the substantive offence and ignoring the rapist.
The Judge should have asked the prosecution why the actual rapist was not in Court being charged instead. This she did not do because it was not part of the ‘plan’ to which she was a party. Her role was to record the plea of guilt and sentence Munawar to a 6 month jail term, period. The sentence had been pre arranged by the prosecution and this information transmitted to this rubber stamp called ‘the Judge’. She failed miserably at the job she was entrusted with and should be held accountable for a grave injustice, if not in this world, then in the next.
Similarly, the so called ‘defence lawyer’, Mr. Yacob Karim, appointed by the police to ensure this stage managed persecution of an innocent man proceeded along the lines of a pre arranged script, ought to be questioned by the body that governs the behavior of its’ members, The Bar Council, and an inquiry held to determine whether this lawyer ought to be allowed to continue to practice law for ever more. I will explain why.
It is the cornerstone of the legal profession in any country in this world, that your clients’ best interests must be protected at all times. If there is any possibility your client may be innocent of a criminal charge, your duty is to defend him so he doesn’t go to jail. This you must do at all costs. Even if your client wants to plead guilty to a charge and you, as his counsel, feel he has a defence to it, you must advise him of this defence and that he ought not plead guilty. This is a basic and sacrosanct pillar of a lawyer’s professional duty to his client.
In Munawar’s case, this ‘counsel’ was secured through the machinations of the Special Branch. This gentleman coincidentally, just happened to be an ex police officer, who was parachuted in as soon as Munawar had been coerced into confessing his ‘crime’ after 5 long days of incarceration and intolerable physical and mental torture at the hands of our home grown Gestapo. This lawyer’s job was to do all the talking in Court the next day, according to the script provided to him.
Munawar was just supposed to say two things. ‘Guilty’ and agree to the facts presented, which he did.
This dubious character called Yacob Karim, masquerading as Munawar’s counsel, then read out to the court a ‘plea in mitigation’ which is generally designed to persuade the Judge to temper justice with mercy and not impose a harsh sentence. This plea in mitigation indicated Munawar was raped by Anwar. The Judge, upon being enlightened to these facts, ought to have stopped the proceedings there and then and rejected the plea of guilt. That would have been the right thing to do but doing the right thing is anathema to any best planned and politically motivated conspiracy founded on lies and deceit.
So when Manjeet filed an Appeal to the High Court against conviction and sentence, the panic button in the political headquarters was pushed with gusto. As Munawar lay in his hospital bed recovering from an exhausted and stressed heart, he was paid numerous visits by officers of the Special Branch with his ‘counsel’ in tow. The main objective of these unsolicited visits was to not so subtly persuade Munawar to withdraw his appeal. What resulted was a cat and mouse game in the Cardiac Care Unit of the Hospital Kuala Lumpur between Manjeet and these Special Branch officers with ‘counsel’ in tow.
In fact ‘counsel in tow’ ought to have been supporting Munawar’s appeal, not trying to persuade him to withdraw it and continue his incarceration in prison. The mind boggles at what this ‘counsel’ must have been thinking. He must have either been a complete idiot or an imposter or both. He could not possibly have been representing himself as a member of the legal profession.
Once Munawar was able to shake off the after effects of the mental and physical torture endured at the hands of the Malaysian Gestapo, his mind became focused on persevering vehemently his attempt to undo all the horror perpetrated on him and to clear his name with the assistance of our Judicial System, in particular, the Court to which he had appealed this nonsense.
That was the theory.
What Munawar eventually came to realize was the extent to which the Malaysian Judiciary had become decomposed, rotten to the core, and totally emasculated by political subservience.
In support of Munawar’s appeal Manjeet needed to show that the plea of guilt which Munawar tendered to the Sessions Court was equivocal. This means it was not meant to be a plea of guilt. There was something which made Munawar plead guilty against his will and that the facts of the charge indicated that he was forced to commit this cooked up crime. This would have been obvious to any idiot.
When a person is incarcerated legally by the police or in one of His Majesty’s gaols, his movements are supposed to be monitored. If he is in the process of being interrogated, the police are required to keep a record of the times he is brought out of his cell to be ‘interviewed’ and the times he is returned to his cell. The purpose of these records are to show that any eventual confession made by the ‘suspect’ was made voluntarily and without undue pressure in the form of sleep deprivation, beatings, torture, mental anguish and physical discomfort. These records are to be meticulously kept in what are known as the ‘lock up diaries’ and are to be kept in accordance with the ‘lock up rules’. These diaries are supposed to prevent any over enthusiasm on the part of the police at solving crimes at the expense of the physical and mental well being of a suspect. They are the rules of the game so to speak.
They are hardly ever followed.
If a person has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to spend some of his life behind bars as a form of societal retribution, the prison authorities are obliged to keep a record of the prisoner’s movements and of his visitors. Dates, times, places and persons all form part of this record.
Manjeet wanted both these records, i.e.: before and after Munawar’s conviction, for the purposes of showing the Appellate Court the dastardly acts perpetrated by those involved. This, combined with a variety of other factors were to be used to persuade the Judge hearing the appeal that Munawar’s conviction was unsafe and that the matter ought to be remitted back to the Sessions Court so that a plea of not guilty could be taken and the matter proceed for full hearing. There was enough legal precedent in support of this proposition.
Now the prosecution could never ever allow this to happen because they knew they would lose the case and Munawar would be acquitted. The collateral damage from this would be the exposure of all the shenanigans that went on in securing Munawar’s false confession and this would hardly have helped change the already tattered public perception of the bona fides of the ongoing Anwar trial or of the Judge hearing it. So the lid had to be kept on Munawar at all costs.
Manjeet wrote numerous letters to the relevant authorities including the Attorney General’s chambers seeking disclosure of the relevant parts of the lock up diary and the prison records. Unsurprisingly he did not receive favourable responses as the prosecution obviously had something to hide. This necessitated making a formal application to Court to compel the relevant authorities to release these documents. The Appeal proper was put on hold while these applications were attended to.