Malaysia's opposition leader seeks release of Estrada
Last updated 06:29pm (Mla time) 09/20/2007
MANILA, Philippines -- Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Thursday sought the release of deposed president Joseph Estrada, who was sentenced to life in prison for plunder, calling him a "true friend."
The former Malaysian deputy prime minister had a close relationship with Estrada while the two were in power. Anwar himself was fired nine years ago and subsequently arrested and convicted of abuse of power and sodomy.
He was freed in 2004 when Malaysia's highest court overturned the sodomy conviction, and is considered one of Malaysia's most charismatic opposition politicians.
Addressing a Manila conference on Asian democracy, Anwar mentioned his gratitude to Estrada, who he said "has remained a true friend."
"I may be touching a raw nerve but please bear with me when I say that I do wish and pray that he will one day be really free," he said.
Anwar's comments came at a time of intense speculation over a possible presidential pardon for Estrada, who despite his ouster in a 2001 "people power" revolt, remains a figurehead patriarch of the opposition.
Estrada was convicted by the anti-graft court last week after a landmark six-year trial on charges that he took bribes and kickbacks while in office.
On Tuesday, he publicly stated for the first time he was open to a possible pardon from his political nemesis, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Arroyo, however, has not indicated if she would be prepared to offer such a deal.
Estrada has denied the charges and accused Arroyo of masterminding his removal in a conspiracy with leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and senior military officers.
Anwar praised the Philippines' record in the struggle for freedom and democracy, but said Estrada's conviction, while touted by some as a victory against corruption, has raised doubts over the independence of the courts.
In 1999, relations between the Philippines and Malaysia soured after Estrada openly expressed support for Anwar after he was fired by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Estrada also ruffled feathers when he met with Anwar's wife and daughter.
Meanwhile, Politics 101 writes:
If you’ve seen Malaysia’s Funniest Home Video, you cannot ignore the fact that it was Mahathir Mohammad who was the root of all evil.
He and members of his regime should be brought to trial like Joseph Ejercito Estrada. What the hell, dreams are free.