The Court of Appeal has found Anwar guilty of the sodomy charge and sentenced him to five years jail in a decision that has sent shockwaves across the nation ahead of nomination day (Tuesday, 11 March) for the Kajang by-election (23 March). What are the chances of Anwar being eligible to contest now?
He was granted a stay pending appeal with bail set at RM10,000.
I spoke to two senior lawyers. One of the lawyers said Anwar should be eligible to contest with a stay of execution pending appeal.
But the other was not so sure, pointing to Azmin Ali’s conviction for perjury in 2001, which effectively barred him from participating in the 2004 general election. (He was later acquitted.) Much would depend on the Election Commission, he said.
Remember the case of Irene Fernandez, who in 2003 was found guilty in a magistrate’s court of publishing false news. She was sentenced to a year’s jail but obtained a stay of execution pending appeal. When contacted, she said she did not contest in the 2004 and 2008 general elections due to uncertainty over whether her candidacy would be accepted by the Election Commission on nomination day despite the stay of execution. It was only towards the end of 2008, more than half a year after the 2008 general election that the High Court acquitted her.
According to Aliran which issued an immediate response this evening:
The guilty verdict was delivered late and Anwar was sentenced to five years jail; nevertheless, a stay of execution was granted pending appeal with bail of RM10,000. This may rule out Anwar from filing his nomination papers on Tuesday, 11 March 2014. But if Anwar presents the nomination papers on the day, which he is entitled to under the constitution, the Election Commission may not exercise its judicial discretion to allow him to contest.
Read Aliran’s full reaction to the decision, in which Rama urges voters to show how they feel about the BN government at the Kajang by-election on 23 March. Yes, Kajang voters should express how they feel about all this at the ballot box.
Ahead of Anwar’s appeal on 6-7 March 2014, Aliran and PKR’s N Surendran had expressed concern about the “unholy haste” in which the Court had fixed the dates for the appeal, just a week after case management.
Final word goes to Anwar: “What Malaysians are fighting for isn’t just about me, but all that is wrong with the system. It backfired before and will backfire again.”