By THOMAS FULLER
Published: January 31, 2010
On Tuesday, a new trial begins for Mr. Anwar, 62, the charismatic but polarizing politician who leads the country’s resurgent opposition.
The accuser is new, but the charge is again sodomy. A conviction this time could end the career of Mr. Anwar and reshape Malaysian politics.
“This is as much a court case as it is a battle for public opinion,” said Ibrahim Suffian, the director of the Merdeka Center, an independent polling agency in
The accuser, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, is in his early 20s and was a former campaign worker for Mr. Anwar.
The trial is being greeted with wariness by many of those who remember the first one, a decade ago, when a stained mattress was introduced as evidence and newspapers were filled with debates and testimony about the exact details of the sexual relationship. The largest newspapers and television stations are controlled by the governing coalition and were cheerleaders for a guilty verdict.
This time, the trial is likely to divert attention from the country’s communal tensions and economic weakness. Churches and mosques have been attacked in recent weeks over the issue of whether non-Muslims should be allowed to use the word “Allah” for God.