BBC and Reuters have some updates on the prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy. Dubbed “Sodomy 2” by the local media, the case is actually in all likelihood just another attempt by the ruling coalition to dirty Anwar’s reputation. The articles do contain some interesting comments about the state of Malaysia’s judiciary. Here are some highlights from Reuters:
Malaysia has made some progress in cleaning up its commercial courts, dogged by complaints of delays and inefficiency, said the Bar Council’s Lim, who noted that trial disposal rates had shot up to 597 in 2009 from 87 in 2008.
Efforts to reduce trial times drew praise from Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry Executive President Stewart Forbes whose body represents 1,000 members with over 110 billion ringgit ($32.23 billion) of investments here.
“Certainly, it’s fair to say that over the last 18 to 24 months, there has been a marked improvement in that aspect of the judiciary,” he said.
However, businesses remain concerned by poor perceptions of the overall quality of the judiciary.
“It may not simply be because one or other particular case, but unfortunately at the moment and over the last few years in Malaysia, the judiciary has been pulled into a large number of elements of debate vis-a-vis a whole range of court cases and issues,” Forbes noted.
I do think Said Ibrahim at the end gets it right – UMNO has focused its efforts on keeping the senior judges loyal. Occasionally, lower courts might issue a controversial ruling, but those generally get overturned by the Federal Court. I expect the High Court’s “Allah decision” will too.