Press Statement: 8th Feb 2001

Anwar's return to prison politically motivated

Suaram joins the chorus of concerns on directives by the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to hasten the transfer of Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim back to prison, despite clear statements from the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital medical team that he needs further hospitalisation.

A medical report prepared on 7th December 2000 by two local doctors, Dato Dr. Muhd Borhan Tan Abdullah from the Institute of Orthopedic and Traumatology on, and Dato Dr. Jeyaindran Tan Sri Dr. Sinnadurai, a specialist consultant, clearly stated that Anwar's condition needs surgical intervention as he has not responded significantly to conservative treatment.

While Anwar's requests to hospital authorities for a German specialist to examine him and to provide expert advice on the most appropriate medical treatment have yet to receive any response, it must be stressed that the reasons for doing so are not because of a lack of confidence in the medical team that has examined him thus far, but rather that the recommended 'endoscopic surgery' is not readily available in Malaysia.

It further distresses us to hear from Anwar's lawyers that he will be transferred to a smaller cell that is normally designated for special psychiatric cases or for hard core criminals. We strongly rebuke this move. We cannot help but conclude that the move is politically motivated and done out of personal abhorrence towards Anwar.

Among the primary reasons of Anwar's back condition as stated by his team of doctors, is due to injuries sustained after being brutally assault by the former IGP while under police custody. We fear for his health and safety and are of the opinion that sabotage cannot be ruled out, especially with a gruesome record of assault under state custody when he was first detained.

Anwar is faced with a serious medical condition, as testified by doctors locally and abroad. Moving him back to prison is an act tantamount to torture and exposes complete disregard over his very survival which lies at great risk.

SUARAM upholds that it is the right of every patient to receive the appropriate medical treatment of one's choice. Anwar has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International and is currently the biggest political threat for Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad. A jail sentence cannot deny a patient the right to his physical and spiritual health.

We demand that Anwar be allowed to remain in the hospital until the surgical procedure of his choice to alleviate his health problem is performed.

Released by:

Cynthia Gabriel
Executive Director SUARAM