He may be revered abroad but in Malaysia where he was Malaysia's deputy premier until he fell out with his then boss Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, Mr Anwar is resolutely ignored.
There is nothing about him in the newspapers, not a mention on television or radio. A recent TV interview he gave Al-Jazeerah, for example, never aired on Malaysia's satellite TV which also carries the Arab station.[--]
Mr Anwar was sacked on Sept 2, 1998 for 'moral misconduct' and was tried and convicted on separate charges of abuse of power. He served his full sentence on the first charge but walked out of prison when he was acquitted of the sodomy charge by Malaysia's Federal Court on Sept 2 last year. For his part, Mr Anwar claims he was convicted on trumped-up charges brought against him by people who feared his ascension to power.
But why go through all that when he could have quietly faded away, an offer Dr Mahathir apparently made. 'It was a Faustian bargain,' Mr Anwar replies. 'I accept, everyone thinks I am guilty.'[--]
But what was the final straw that ruined the [Anwar-Mahathir]relationship? 'It wasn't just one thing. There were a lot of people surrounding him (Dr Mahathir) who said I could not be trusted, they were worried about my anti-corruption drive. The Time cover was certainly an issue that was used by the people around him.'
(Mr Anwar was hailed 'The Future of Asia' by Time magazine in a laudatory 1997 article that was largely critical of Dr Mahathir).
The Asian financial crisis seems to have compounded matters. 'The fall of Suharto, that worried him (Dr Mahathir). He said this is not the way to treat leaders. Then the bailouts happened. Treasury and Petronas, and you know the rest.'[--]
The former deputy premier has mixed feelings about current premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi although he thinks that, on a personal level, the premier is a good man. The two met when Mr Anwar dropped in on Mr Abdullah's Hari Raya open house celebrations. Indeed, the amount of time the premier spent with Mr Anwar set tongues wagging in Kuala Lumpur.
IN 1998, K Thirumal, a former Malaysian walker who won consecutive gold medals in various South-east Asian Games during the 1970s, was a warden in a Malaysian prison in Sungei Buloh, 25km north of Kuala Lumpur.
There he met Anwar Ibrahim, then an inmate awaiting trial on charges of abuse of power and sodomy.
Mr Thirumal told friends, and Mr Anwar's family later, that he'd expected to see a broken man. Instead, he found the former deputy premier cheerful and, unusually for the mighty who have fallen, not prone to bouts of self-pity.[--]
'Ultimately, life is what you make of it,' he says. 'You can give up or you can choose to keep your spirits high. I chose the latter, devoured every book I could find and kept myself busy.'[--]
How was life in prison? 'Actually, I plan to write about it because I kept a diary. But, you know, the days blurred and sometimes they were exactly the same so I would get fed up and there would be no entry on some days, But, for the record, I was in solitary confinement all through my term, I wasn't allowed to mix with other prisoners.'[--]
There was no TV, no radio, and no newspapers,' he says a little wearily. 'But I did get old issues from the guards or from my lawyers. Still, unlike Mandela, however, who had to undergo hard labour and prison brutality, I received nothing but kindness and support from the guards, even all the officials.'[--]
The former prisoner countered it by staying positive. 'Whenever I met the family, we made it a point never to talk about problems. We only talked about the good times, the kids, their education.
'We'd sing songs together. I asked my kids to learn the songs that I liked, you know, Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka. I told them to be happy. You know many inmates, when their families come, they all cry.
'I said, never, no one should cry. Ever!'
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