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Private Eye's Letter From Malaysia

This is from the latest issue of the British satirical magazine, Private Eye. Unfortunately, I do not have the issue date.


From Our Own Correspondent

YET AGAIN we have to hide our heads in shame from the rest of the world. Anwar Ibrahim, our former deputy prime minister, heir apparent and now opposition leader, has been sentenced to nine years in jail for buggering his driver, aided and abetted, according the courts, by his brother and much baby oil.

Never mind that the case against him was full of holes, as it were. Or that Mahathir Mohamed, our veteran prime minister who seemed to tire of his abitious protege, had found him guilty even before the trial started, appearing on national TV to describe -- with appropriate hand gestures -- how Anwar had masturbated one man while screwing another. And all this in a country where until recently you couldn't say "condom" on television!

If nothing else the whole affairs has done wonders for sex education in Malaysia. The impact on the reputation of our judiciary has been less kind, however, as we now joke that we have the best judges money can buy.

It seems it didn't make any difference that the driver on whom the prosecution case was pinned couldn't remember when exactly he had been sodomised. Suddenly being told to drop his trousers by the then scond-most powerful man in the land is obviously an eminently forgettable experience.

The Royal Malaysian police were very helpful, remaining him that the incident had actually taken one night in 1994. Then it was changed to 1992. But that proved a little tricky to stand up because the alleged love nest in question hadn't been built then. In the end Anwar was charged with committing sodomy some time in the first quarter of 1993 -- putting paid to any alibi, especially when his official diaries for that period mysteriously disappeared.

Some worry that the driver was a tad confused, changing his story so many times that even his lordship commented that this wa a witness who said one thing one day and another the next. At one point the driver even testified that he hadn't been sodomised by Anwar at all. But the prosecution explained that he was of low IQ and a poor educational background. Which makes it all the more amazing when you consider how well he's done: he's now a company director.

Of course, the reason the man patiently waited so many years to expose Anwar, coincidentally producing his revelations when the relationship between the deputy prime minister and his boss had broken down so irretrievably, was because he was a pious Muslim, irrelevant that he himself was caught with his sarond around his ankles last year "in flagrante" with a young lady who was not his wife. We all know he had nothing to gain from smearing Anwar, as the learned judge himself so wisely pointed out.

In court the judge told Anwar he was a sick man. Actually many of us believe him to be peculiarly healthy. The man had virtually run the country himself, he had a wife and six children and -- according to his destractors -- umpteen girlfriends and boyfriends on the side. Now that takes stamina in our hot climate.

But it is true Anwar was no match for Rahim Noor, our police chief, who personally beat him unconscious. Admittedly Anwar was at a slight disadbantage being handcuffed and blindfolded in a police cell at the time. Still, he survived without any medical attention for days. We Malaysins re a tough people, but shame is another thing.

Some foreigners say our justice system leaves a bad small in the air and that the real problem here is our prime minister, who has been in power for 20 years, longer than any other leader in Asia. One of our award-winning novelists seemed to agree when he wrote a bestseller about our country's political situation called, er, SHIT.

The plot is simple: a piece of ageing shit is stuck in the bowels causing a terrific smell and refusing to leave. A vicous battle ensues and finally the malodorous old shit is expelled to the glorious relief of all. Wishful thinking in our case -- but nobody can deny we are an anal lot.


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