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Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim, A Jailed Symbol

Planning Pride Celebrations in Kuala Lumpur

Compiled By GayToday

gaymalaysia2.jpg - 13.62 K A Malaysian-American woman marches in the 1998 San Francisco Pride Parade
Photo: Suara: Malaysian Gay
& Lesbian Club
Last Wednesday, after a five-month trial, a Malaysian court found Anwar Ibrahim, a former Deputy Prime Minister who had come into his office in 1993, guilty of corruption.

Anwar, who was badly beaten immediately following his arrest, had also been charged—suspiciously—with hiding information that his government accusers say would have proved that the successfully married politician was guilty of sodomy. His wife, a physician who treated him following the post-arrest beating, is now heading a political opposition party to further his ideals. Anwar still faces one more corruption charge as well as five counts of sodomy.

A mattress which the prosecution flaunted in court was said to contain Anwar's seminal fluids. Witnesses testified that he'd had sex with both women and men. The accused man's one-time chauffeur called himself the former Deputy Premier's "sex slave".

International condemnation of Malaysia's legal system, as a result, has erupted. American officials say there are serious flaws in the Southeast Asian nation's judicial process, and a senior UN representative charged the trial had failed miserably to meet global standards of justice. Amnesty International agreed the court's decision demonstrates little more than a clash of political differences within the Malaysian Government. malaysia1.gif - 4.99 K
Anwar Ibrahim

Vast numbers of Malaysia's citizenry now insist Anwar's been framed by his one-time mentor, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and, when the guilty verdict against Anwar was announced and he was jailed, his supporters rioted near the courthouse in Kuala Lampur, the capital city. They threw stones and set trash cans afire.

Police responded with tear gas and water cannons.

Mr Anwar, in a statement he read in court after the verdict, called his conviction "an absolute disgrace" and accused Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of plotting against him

In informal (anonymous) letters exchanged between a gay Malaysian resident and a U.S. citizen (forwarded to GayToday) the Stonewall revolt of 30 years ago was discussed in connection with last week's uprising in Kuala Lampur. Similarities between Malaysia's homophobic climate and that in the United States also surfaced in the correspondence:

Malaysian Correspondent: At the moment the majority population of Kuala Lumpur are Muslims, followed by Buddhist-Chinese and Hindu-Indians, of course there are the token Christian-Indian-Chinese-Portuguese etc. A minority to say the least.

We also have native Malaysians from both East and West Malaysia --predominantly Christian from the British Colonial influence with afternoon tea on the lawn coming a close second on influences! Not to forget Hot Toddy!

American Correspondent: Thanks for the break-down on the religious scene in Kuala Lumpur. My particular slant on understanding homophobia is that it can be basically traced to the various "sacred" texts that organized religions teach as "truth" (rather than use free inquiry and the scientific method of reasoning).

Malaysian Correspondent: Well presently, you may already know this that the ex-Deputy Prime Minister has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for various corruption charges and....wait for it because it's worth it....for introducing his penis into another man's anus! My Gawd what gall! Well, you and I know the Muslim participation in this: it's normally seen as lewd act, but everyone wants to do it anyway, but are too hypocritical to admit it!

American Correspondent: Yes, we know about about your ex-Deputy Prime Minister's being sentenced to 6 years in jail for doin' the nasty with a guy. (ooh!)

malaysia4.jpg - 10.08 K In fact, in this morning's New York Times on the op-ed page Anwar Ibrahim wrote an article from his jail cell. He blames a power-crazed Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, 73, of thinking he's the only person alive who can lead Malaysia out of its economic crisis.

Anwar said that he himself became dangerous because as Finance Minister he would not do Dr. Mahathir's 'business as usual' and as a politician he had widespread support for his work supporting democracy and a civil society. So he was accused of sex crimes, treason and corruption, and was expelled from both government and his party.

Anwar denies that the 19-gun salute he received when he went to Washington in 1998 proved he was some kind of "puppet of Washington" or "CIA agent" or an "American mole."

He then writes, "Given Malaysia's political culture, it was just a matter of time before ambitious politicians jumped onto the bandwagon of xenophobia.

But so far, he says, nothing has matched the bizarre claims of two Cabinet members that the U.S. or some other foreign power waged biological warfare by introducing into Malaysia a deadly virus that is wreaking havoc in the country.

Such insults to the public's intelligence, according to the jailed politician, are a major reason for the increasing popularity of the 'reformasi' movement, which emerged spontaneously upon his dismissal and recently gave birth to a multiracial political organization that Anwar's wife heads.

Related Articles from the GayToday Archive:
Malaysia's Sentencing of Anwar Sparks Riots

Malaysian Sodomy Trial Update

Malaysia: Group Aims to "Wipe Out" Homosexuals

Malaysia's Anwar Pleads Not Guilty to Sodomy Charges

Related Sites:
Suara: Malaysian Gay
& Lesbian Club

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Anwar believes that the new party, in cooperation with other opposition groups, will help pull Malaysia out of the morass and pave the way toward civil society.

In light of all this, I imagine there are ramifications for your Pride '99. Here, for example, Catholics will not allow gay Catholics to march with signs in their annual St. Patrick's Parade. In our annual Stonewall Parade, some religious types appear to taunt us (and we counter by pointing our finger and exclaiming, "Shame, shame!")

If a politician can be attacked for alleged sodomy in your country, sodomy must be something BAD to a lot of people. Well, it's that way here in the U.S. also.

For example, many of our Congressmen are against suspending legislation pertaining to sodomy, our President has not exactly been gay-friendly, and most of the churches continue to teach not only that sodomy is bad because God says so but also that God speaks to individuals,

God chooses who will go to Paradise or Heaven. God doesn't want women as priests, God can modify Nature's laws, etc.

Can you imagine teaching biology to teenagers who the day before in Sunday School are told that God suspends the laws of Nature? That the Bible is anti-same-sex (although 435 species of animals have been observed to have homosexual experiences) etc.?

In short, we have all the same problems that you do. In the past few decades, I have noticed progress at least in our larger cities--several state and national Congressmen are openly gay and lesbian, which is true progress!

One national representative (Rep. Barney Frank) actually led our Stonewall Parade last year, seated in a convertible with his male lover). In small towns, however, it is just as difficult now for a gay or a lesbian as it ever was, or at least that's my experience.

Malaysian Correspondent: Well our (Pride celebration) date has been set for the 8th of May and it will be a dance event plus a show that encompasses famous people who are out, mostly via movies and music although we'll have a surprise look at the sports world where we will have someone representing Greg Louganis while he is surrounded by girls in swimming caps circling him doing an Esther Williams style synchronized swimming number!!

I have one small favor to ask before I say goodbye. Are there any ways to do the following?

  1. Hook up with another Gay Pride organizer to form some sort of cohesive link between us and them?

  2. Obtain a message from the Gay Pride organization.

  3. Do a cross-awareness program with other Pride organizers?

American correspondent: At your May 8th affair, I assume you would appreciate receiving a special greeting from us Stonewall veterans. I'll consult with several of the Stonewallers, and we'll send you an e-mail that you can circulate and publicize however you wish.

We did something similar for the Australians, who celebrate in February because the weather isn't that pleasant in June.

Although you don't yet have a homepage, I personally will see that you are linked to as many Gay Pride organizations as possible. I'll do it before the end of the week!

Keep in touch! Our eyes are on you. Your success will be our success, too!

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