When we published an article about the possible outcomes of the US petition on Anwar’s verdict, some of ugaiz didn’t take to it very well, with comments ranging from “Meh. nothing’s gonna happen”…
…to “Ugaiz gotta check yo’self befo you wreck yo’self”.
So in light of that, we’re publishing another article on possible outcomes regarding Anwar’s verdict! #CilisosCariNahas
Before you close this window while silently cursing under your breath, hear us out. Even if you’re the type who prefers to steer clear from Malaysian politics or from reading the papers in an attempt to distance yourself away from the additional doom and gloom that you can totally do without, we would be very surprised if you didn’t know about Anwar’s guilty verdict for sodomy and his 5-year prison sentence.
We would also be very surprised if you didn’t – even for a nanosecond – wonder…
“What’s going to happen to him now?”
Well, we once again consulted our favorite ponytailed lawyer Fahri Azzat of LoyarBurok to come up with 5 hypothetical but realistically possible scenarios regarding Anwar’s future. So again,
- It’s based on real possibilities, so you won’t see “Anwar rides off in a sparkling unicorn in search of the ancient scroll of leadership to rule the country”.
- It’s hypothetical, so we’re not saying any one of these will be the actual outcome.
But first, here’s what life in prison would be like for Anwar:
Home Minister Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has mentioned that Anwar will not be treated any differently from other prisoners, except being given his own room rather than a shared prison cell. We feel this point should be highlighted for those who are either planning to make prison shower jokes or those planning to respond to them, so, you’re welcome.
He’ll also be able to send and receive letters, and receive visitors for 45 minutes once a month for the first six months. The frequency of visits might be changed later on. If you’re curious about prison visiting arrangements, do check out Jabatan Penjara Malaysia’s website here.
Also, while the picture above is an old one from when Anwar was allegedly beat up while in prison, we’re already beginning to hear news that his current living conditions in “a bare cell with a two-inch foam mattress, a bucket, and a squat toilet” is already beginning to take a toll on his health.
So on that note, here are 5 possibilities for Anwar to get out of prison earlier…
1. He stays in jail for the full 5 years, gets released after
When you’ll likely see this happen: In 5 years (Duh)
Anwar serves his full sentence. Politically, he can no longer hold any of his previous leadership positions as the Federal Constitution (Article 48 if you’re curious) states that a member of parliament (MP) is disqualified if he has been sentenced to more than one year in prison or fined more than RM2,000. However, he is currently still the opposition leader and Permatang Pauh MP at the time of writing as the disqualification only happens 14 days after the conviction date, or for as long as it takes to petition for a Royal pardon (we’ll be covering this below).
Upon his release, he won’t be able to directly involve himself in politics for another 5 years; making him 77 years old the next time you see his face on an election poster.
2. He stays in jail for 2-3 years, then gets released for good behavior
When you’ll likely see this happen: In 2-3 years
If Anwar keeps himself out of trouble during his time in prison, he might see himself released early under two options in the Prison Act, with the first being –
Prison department kasi Anwar chance
The proper word for this is “Remission,” where prisoners who are serving sentences longer than 6 months are eligible to be released earlier, by 1/3 of their sentence. But with terms and conditions la. If they mess up and commit a punishable offence under the Prison Act, they’ll have to serve the remainder of the time that was remitted. Remission is also tied into the second option, which is-
Anwar gets released on parole
There’s also a chance that Anwar can be released on parole after serving at least half of his sentence. In case you’re wondering, a remission is given by the Prison authorities while a parole has to be applied for. There are a bunch of factors which will be taken into account for eligibility, which you can find in Section 46(f) of the Prison Act. However, the catch here is that Anwar has to serve half his sentence without taking into account the 1/3 remission period, meaning that his parole release will only be 1/6 of his total sentence (About 1 year).
And to answer the burning question of whether or not he can be involved in politics during his remission/parole period, the answer is Yes (sorta). He will be able to give speeches, attend meetings, and so on just as long as these activities don’t result in a criminal charge or he’ll be whisked back to prison. However, civil suits (people suing him) won’t violate this condition.
For more info on Remissions and Paroles, check out this article on The Malaysian Bar’s website. (CILISOS would like to note that this isn’t the kind of bar you’re thinking of)
3. Someone finds new evidence proving Anwar’s innocence
When you’ll likely see this happen: Anytime or not at all
Now keep in mind that the reason why last week’s verdict is so important is because the Federal Court appeal was Anwar’s last chance of getting his conviction overturned. If he was found guilty (which was what happened) he can’t appeal any more. But let’s say new evidence proving Anwar’s innocence is found sometime during his imprisonment, then what happens?
Well, good news! It can be reopened!
This has happened before with the Altantuya trial, in which PI Bala’s evidence emerged after the trial was concluded. The evidence was considered significant enough for the case to be reopened. Because this is about Anwar, we’ll leave you with the a link to the case timeline as well as our own CILISOS writeup for your own reading. But the point is, yes, new evidence means that the case can be reopened.
4. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong pardons Anwar
When you’ll likely see this happen: Any November 28th for the next 5 years or not at all
Under the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has the power to grant pardons. The difference between a pardon and a remission or parole is that the pardon is essentially a declaration of forgiveness which would allow the recipient to continue on with their activities as if they were never imprisoned in the first place. This means that in Anwar’s case, he can continue serving as MP without the 5-year wait.
If Anwar takes the Royal pardon route, he will have to appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who will then make a decision based on the advice of a Pardons Board, consisting of the Federal Territories Minister, Attorney-General, and not more than three other members.
(Fun fact: Lim Kit Siang received a Royal pardon in in 1969 which allowed him to retain his seat in parliament.)
Note again that a Royal pardon is a declaration of forgiveness, which kinda puts Anwar in a bit of a tough position. Y’see, to be forgiven, you first have to be wrong; meaning that if Anwar petitions for a Royal pardon he’s basically admitting that he DID go to the brown town with Saiful.
5. Pakatan wins the 2018 elections, releases Anwar
When you’ll likely see this happen: 3-4 years
Okay, so if Pakatan wins the 2018 elections, you might imagine that amidst the celebrations you’d see Anwar released the very next morning to cries of justice finally being served and possibly a pair of doves carrying banners behind him as he walks out of prison.
Well, not really.
Fahri says that the easiest legal route would be to appoint a fresh Commissioner-General of Prisons to reconsider Anwar’s remission (Point #2, assuming he didn’t get it) or to get a royal pardon from the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong with a new Pardons Board (Point #4).
Yeahhhhh…. So just putting it out there because we know it’ll inevitably be a call for getting people to vote opposition, but Pakatan winning the next elections WON’T miraculously set Anwar free. You know, just sayin’… OH HEY LOOK! CANDY!
These are all speculations! Where’s the meat, CILISOS? Where’s the meattttttt????!
No matter which side of the fence you’re on regarding Anwar’s case, there’s little denying that his guilty verdict has generated quite the poopstorm.
From questions and “concerns” by other countries such as the United States, Britain, and Australia to stronger-worded condemnation by international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the UN Human Rights Office; nothing came close to the backlash on home ground, with police IGP Tan Sri Khalid issuing warnings to the rakyat against criticizing the court’s decision on social media on social media.
We didn’t mistype that… IGP Khalid has been sending out warnings to individuals from his Twitter account.
This all seems to point to something – and we’re going out on a limb (and possibly a sedition charge) by saying this – that Anwar is very possibly on his way to becoming a social and/or political martyr, ironically becoming a bigger threat to the powers that be now that he’s in prison. We have seen it happen in the form of Aung San Suu Kyi, who became to be seen as a martyr for democracy in Burma when she was placed under house arrest; and in Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for 27 years fighting apartheid in South Africa.
But we didn’t come up with this thought ourselves though… The news headlines speak for themselves so #DontSeditionUs
- “The Economist: Jail will martyr Anwar but will not sink Pakatan” – Malay Mail Online
- “Sodomy II guilty verdict cements Anwar’s political martyrom” – Malaysia Today
- “Is Anwar Malaysia’s first political martyr?” – Rakyat Times
- “Anwar will be ‘more dangerous’ inside prison, warns Ambiga” – The Rakyat Post
All that said though… one thing we’re curious to know is, what did you initially think the verdict would be?