PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad refused to believe the sodomy allegations surrounding Anwar Ibrahim as he was blinded by the latter’s charisma and gift of the gab, a former minister claimed.
In a blog post, Zainuddin Maidin said that Mahathir’s trust in his former protege was so great, that even the police were afraid to inform the then prime minister about the claims.
“Top police officers had a difficult time convincing him, due to Anwar’s pious image.
“I know Mahathir didn’t believe Anwar had committed sodomy until the very last moment,” the former information minister wrote.
At a forum held a few days ago, Mahathir, who is Pakatan Harapan chairman, said that during the three years before Anwar’s arrest, police had been sending reports of his alleged misdeeds.
“I thought police were trying to undermine him and so I didn’t take action. Later, police gave me detailed reports and I still didn’t want to believe them.
“I wanted to interview these people who had allegedly been abused,” Mahathir told the forum when asked about the allegations which led to Anwar’s sacking from Umno and the government.
Mahathir said he only believed the claims after the people interviewed admitted that they were true.
Anwar was subsequently sacked as the deputy prime minister in 1998 and charged with corruption for allegedly interfering in police investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.
Anwar was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption on April 14, 1999, and nine years in prison for sodomy on Aug 8, 2000.
Human rights activists and the opposition heavily criticised the sentences, which were to be served consecutively, as being politically-influenced by the Mahathir administration.
The Federal Court later overturned the sodomy conviction in September 2004 when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister.
Anwar is currently serving a five-year jail term for a case that is referred to as “Sodomy 2”, after losing his appeal at the Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015, to set aside his conviction on a charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008.