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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

NOVEMBER 5, 1999 VOL. 25 NO. 44

Malayisa's Trial by Dirt
Anwar's claims fill the court and the media
By ARJUNA RANAWANA Kuala Lumpur

    ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Indonesia: Unity in Diversity?
Maybe the all-inclusive new government will work. It had better
Call 'Em Wahidisms Quotations: The world according to Gus Dur
Is He Strong Enough? Wahid's health raises concerns
The Fight for Megawati Behind the scenes of the V.P. election
'East Timor Is a Tough Job' Australia's Downer on relations with Asia

ASEAN: An Indochinese Caucus After a conclave in Vientiane, fears of a split

Malaysia: Now, the Sinatra Principle 'We all did it our own way,' croons Mahathir
The Maps to Power Voting districts lay a confusing quilt
Trial by Dirt Anwar's claims fill the court and the media

The Philippines: 'My Ratings Are Down!' Estrada is moving into damage control

Viewpoint: Beyond Groundhog Day Is this Pyongyang's last chance to end the false starts?

  RELATED STORIES
ASIAWEEK
Malaysia Speculation continues over the election date (10/22/99)

Precedent Can Anwar run for Parliament from Prison? (10/22/99)

Malaysia's Election: Courting the Swing Vote
Indians now have more political pull(9/3/99)

CNN
Malaysia's opposition senses breakthrough
(10/13/99)

Signs Malaysian elections may soon be called
(10/07/99)

"Never mind bad blood, bad money or bad women," Judge Arifin Jaka snapped as he told Anwar Ibrahim's lawyers to stop going on about the alleged faults of the former Malaysian deputy prime minister's enemies. Focus on how they supposedly conspired to fabricate charges of sexual misconduct against Anwar, he ordered. But by then, a lot had been said.

Opening the defense case, Anwar testified for two days how his fight against corruption and cronyism created powerful opponents. He accused International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub, and Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin of a slew of misdeeds. The bitterest clashes he cited were with Daim - Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's right-hand man - such as one over Daim's takeover of Hock Hua Bank over the objections of himself, then finance minister, and the central bank.

At one point, Anwar said Daim warned him of government plans to charge him with sexual misconduct and asked him to resign to avoid embarrassment. "I told him," Anwar testified, "'you mean you have the audacity to fabricate such malicious lies about my alleged corruption and sexual misconduct when you have squandered billions from the country? You have been using your private jet to bring in women via the VIP channel [at the airport] bypassing Customs and Immigration.'"

The salty accounts are in sharp contrast to Anwar's previous trial for corruption. Then, the presiding judge ruled that the defense's claim of a conspiracy against Anwar was irrelevant. Judge Arifin decided that a possible conspiracy to "cook up" charges could be relevant. So the defense got busy presenting evidence of the "bad blood" between Anwar and his enemies which supposedly gave rise to the conspiracy, resulting in the unprecedented broadcast of allegations against top officials in court and in Malaysia's mass media.

Judge Arifin touched the brakes on the third day of Anwar's testimony. The accusations showed that a grudge existed; now he wanted proof of a conspiracy. But he let Anwar rip again on day four. And the next round of fireworks is already being lit over the defense's request that Mahathir testify. The PM says he is willing and his appearance could be epic - with risks to both sides. Mahathir is a master debater, but Anwar's flamboyant lead counsel, Karpal Singh, may be hoping to push the feisty PM into saying too much.

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