Mock prison tour launched to push for Anwar's release

The family and supporters of Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim yesterday launched a Mock Prison Tour with plans to parade nationwide a replica of a mobile prison, in an attempt to rev up a campaign to collect one million signatures to petition for his release from jail.

The tour, which is led by the #BebasAnwar (#FreeAnwar) movement, will kick off in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor this week.

#BebasAnwar Mock Prison Tour coordinator Adrian Lim Chee En said that when the target number of signatures has been collected, the petition will be submitted to the Malaysian King to appeal for Anwar's release.

This is being done despite the fact that a separate request by Anwar's family seeking a royal pardon had been rejected by the Pardons Board in March.

"If the petition succeeds, then good for us. If it does not succeed, we will try again or approach the Sultans (the Malay rulers in nine states). If all fail, we will try international platforms," Mr Lim told The Straits Times after the launch.

He said a recent decision by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to label Anwar's imprisonment as a violation of laws and which called for his immediate release, lent credence to the cause.

Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison in February after the country's highest court upheld a conviction for sodomy, agreeing with an appeals court that last year overturned his 2012 acquittal on the charge.

Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Anwar's wife, who witnessed yesterday's Mock Prison Tour launch, demanded that the federal government provide him with what she said was much-needed regular and intensive physiotherapy for her husband's right shoulder problem. She said 68-year-old Anwar should be allowed to undergo surgery, if necessary, overseas, saying the family does not trust the Malaysian health system.

"We want the assurance that he is given basic physiotherapy, to reduce his pain and also to prepare for better surgical results. We do not trust the system if even an Attorney-General can be changed without his knowledge," Dr Wan Azizah told reporters, in reference to former attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail being suddenly replaced in July.

In Parliament last week, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said Anwar had undergone treatment 33 times at the nearby Sungai Buloh Hospital, attended 10 physiotherapy sessions and was afforded medical treatment "way above the rights of other prisoners".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2015, with the headline 'Mock prison tour launched to push for Anwar's release'. Print Edition | Subscribe