KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 – A petition to the Obama administration to free jailed opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, which was removed yesterday, has been restored on the White House’s “We the People” site. The removal has been highlighted by Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers who asked why the petition was removed without any explanation.
The website had carried the message: “The petition you are trying to access has been removed from the site under our Moderation Policy because it is in violation of our Terms of Participation.” However, the Free Anwar petition is now back, with 106,472 signatures collected so far.
For the petition, which was submitted to the White House on February 10, to be successful and receive a response from President Barack Obama’s administration, it has to reach 100,000 signatures by tomorrow. The petition was started by former US ambassador to Malaysia John R. Malott, who submitted it to the site soon after the Federal Court in Putrajaya found Anwar guilty of sodomy and sent him to five years in prison.
The petition reads: “Make the release of Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim from prison a top priority for US policy toward Malaysia. “Anwar Ibrahim, the Leader of the Opposition in Malaysia, a champion of democracy, a believer in Islamic justice, and a longtime friend of the United States, was convicted and jailed on trumped-up charges on February 10, 2015.”
The White House on February 10 had issued a statement after the verdict was announced, saying it was “deeply disappointed”. It said Anwar’s trial had “raised a number of serious concerns about rule of law and the fairness of the judicial system in Malaysia”.