Malaysia drops sex assault probe of PM-in-waiting Anwar

Anwar Ibrahim was first thrown in jail in the 1990s after being sacked from his position in government by Mahathir Mohamad. (AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Malaysia drops sex assault probe of PM-in-waiting Anwar

  • Anwar Ibrahim was first thrown in jail in the 1990s after being sacked from his position in government by Mahathir Mohamad

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim will not face charges over claims he sexually assaulted a male former aide, prosecutors said Tuesday, the latest such scandal to tarnish the veteran politician’s career.
Muhammed Yusoff Rawther last month accused Anwar of trying to force him to have sex and filed a police complaint, but officials said there was not enough evidence to make a criminal case.
Anwar, seen as the likely successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, spent almost a decade in jail after being convicted of sodomizing a young male aide, allegations that supporters say were aimed at ruining his political career.
Sex between men remains illegal under colonial-era laws in the Muslim-majority country.
Anwar was released from prison and pardoned in 2018 after his alliance stormed to a shock victory against a corruption-plagued coalition that had ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1957.
But political tensions have escalated sharply, with Anwar’s nemesis-turned-ally Mahathir refusing to say when he will hand over power, and vicious infighting erupting in his People’s Justice Party (PKR).
After completing investigations, the attorney-general’s office said “insufficient evidence” and “contradictions of material facts” meant they would not proceed with a prosecution.
“We agree with the recommendation of (the police) that the case be closed,” said solicitor-general Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek in a statement.
Neither Anwar — who denied the allegations — nor Yusoff were named in the statement but it was widely reported to refer to the case.
Anwar was first thrown in jail in the 1990s after being sacked from his position in government by Mahathir, who was in his first stint as premier at the time, and their stormy relationship has loomed over Malaysian politics ever since.
In 2015, he was jailed for a second time on sodomy charges and only released after last year’s elections.
Mahathir and Anwar reconciled ahead of the polls in a bid to oust the scandal-mired Barisan Nasional coalition of then premier Najib Razak.


Indonesian unions vow mass protests if president signs jobs law

Updated 24 October 2020

Indonesian unions vow mass protests if president signs jobs law

  • ‘We are ready for dialogue, even ready for a debate if necessary in an open, public hearing’

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s workers will stage further mass protests across the country if President Joko Widodo signs new jobs measures into law next week, the head of the main labor group said on Saturday.
“It is the exploitation of labor that we’re against,” said the head of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions, Said Iqbal. “We are ready for dialogue, even ready for a debate if necessary in an open, public hearing.”
The government says the legislation will boost employment by cutting red tape, easing restrictions of foreign investment and improving labor market competitiveness. Unions and rights groups say the measures favor business over workers and the environment.
Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians have hit the streets across the archipelago in recent weeks, culminating in sporadic violence and thousands of arrests, as they protested the measures passed by parliament on Oct. 5.
If the president, widely known as Jokowi, signs the measures into law, as expected, on Wednesday, labor unions will stage “massive national” protests on Nov. 1, centered on the State Palace and Constitutional Court in the capital Jakarta, Iqbal told a virtual news conference.
Tens of thousands would be expected to gather in Jakarta and hundreds of thousands more across the country, he said.
Spokesmen at Jokowi’s office, Jakarta police and Indonesia’s economic ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.