By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has maintained that the sodomy charge against him has not affected his popularity abroad, and that he will be travelling next month even as the high court delivers its decision on his case.
Sodomy II trial judge Datuk Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah is expected to deliver a decision on the case on January 9, wrapping up a trial which officially began on February last year.
Anwar (picture) is charged with sodomising a former aide, of which he has vehemently denied.
Anwar believes that he will be fully acquitted as long as there is no political interference in the trial judgment.
“On the ninth of next month I will receive my verdict. But there are already two invitations waiting for me, from the grandson of India’s champion Mahatma Ghandi, Raj Mohan. He has invited me to Bombay from January 9 to 11 to launch a big anti-graft campaign in India.
“On January 12 I have been invited to speak at the office of the Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan in Istanbul,” he was quoted by PAS organ Harakahdaily as saying.
“You can demean Anwar in Malaysia, but not in the eyes of the world,” he added.
Election 2008 saw Barisan Nasional suffer its worst performance at the polls, ceding five state governments and 82 parliamentary seats to Pakatan Rakyat.
This upcoming general election is as crucial for Opposition leader Anwar as it is for his rival Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
For Anwar, it is a matter of proving his relevance and legitimacy as the leader of his fledgling PR pact, after being hit with countless allegations of sexual improprieties which included an alleged sex video.
For Najib, the election will be referendum for the Umno president who took over from his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2009.
While considered highly popular among voters, Najib’s credibility was badly hit following his administration’s handling of the infamous July 9 rally.
He immediately announced a slew of reforms after the rally, which included a Peaceful Assembly Act, repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) as well as allowing university students above 21 to join politics outside of campus grounds.