Angus Reid Global Monitor | Abstract: (Angus Reid Global Monitor), 30-Aug-2008 – The majority of people in Malaysia think allegations of sexual misconduct against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim are false, according to a poll by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research. 55 per cent of respondents share this view, while 11 per cent think the charges are true.
(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – The majority of people in Malaysia think allegations of sexual misconduct against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim are false, according to a poll by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research. 55 per cent of respondents share this view, while 11 per cent think the charges are true.
The ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO)—the biggest party in a coalition of 12 political factions known as the National Front (BN)—has formed the government after every election since the Asian country attained its independence from Britain in 1957.
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as prime minister in October 2003, after the retirement of Mahathir Mohamad, who served for more than 22 years. In the March 2004 election, the National Front secured 198 of the 219 seats in the House of Representatives. Abdullah was sworn in as head of government with the biggest majority in three decades.
In the March 2008 ballot, the National Front won 140 seats in the legislature. The coalition’s share of the vote dropped drastically, from 64.4 per cent in 2004, to 50.27 per cent in 2008. According to Human Rights Watch, the most recent election was “grossly unfair” and marred by irregularities.
In 1999, Anwar—who served as deputy prime minister and finance minister during the Mahathir administration—was sentenced to jail on charges of sodomy and corruption. Anwar was regarded as Mahathir’s natural successor but had become a critic of the administration. Many Malaysians saw his conviction as politically-motivated.
In 2004, the Federal Court reversed Anwar’s conviction for sodomy and he was released from prison. Anwar’s wife, Azizah Ismail, formed the National Justice Party (PKN) in 1999. Anwar is now the leader of a coalition of opposition parties.
Last month, Anwar was arrested again, this time over allegations that he had “illegal sex” with a male aide. Homosexual sex is defined by Malaysian law as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” Anwar pleaded not guilty, and has been released on bail. He is running for a seat in a legislative by-election next week.
On Aug. 22, Anwar decried the government’s tactics, saying, “Since the 1999 general election, they have used every means, threat and dirty tactic in the book to ensure they secure the landslide victories. This time, this by-election takes the cake and the prime minister, deputy prime minister, ministers and other BN leaders have jumped on the bandwagon on a free-for-all, no-holds barred smear campaign against me.”
Do you believe in the allegations of sexual misconduct against Anwar Ibrahim?
Do not believe
Not sure / No reply
Source: Merdeka Center for Opinion Research
Methodology: Telephone Interviews with 1,030 Malaysian voters, conducted Jul. 4 to Jul. 14, 2008. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.