BJ Habibie passed away yesterday night but WFTV remembers the episode to get Anwar Ibrahim out of Malaysia for a back operation rejected by Dr M.
BJ Habibie, 3rd President of Indonesia, passed away yesterday night but WFTV remembers the episode to get Anwar Ibrahim out of Malaysia for a back operation rejected by Dr M.
That was in 2001, and then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad ended a move by Anwar, then in jail, to get treatment in Munich.
Here is a lesser-known episode because it was not reported in the local media. At that time, it was taboo for local newspapers to publish anything the government of the day did not want to read.
There were a lot of tractions on whether to let Anwar have surgery for a deteriorating back injury. It was not about which hospital or where else the surgery should take place.
It was whether he could have the surgery! That is how the situation was for the man who is to become the next PM of the country.
Rumours have it Anwar was beaten in jail on the very first day he entered the cell. We all know the story and who was behind the aggression.
The aggression led a black-eyed reformasi leader being brought to court and this became the symbol of the party that fought for his freedom.
However, there was more than the black eye. Anwar had suffered a back injury because of this ill-treatment. The government could not ignore this fact.
At the time of the calls by opposition leaders to let Anwar have surgery, Dr Mahathir was not listening.
He had a meeting with the opposition leaders on whether Anwar should have surgery or not. His response was negative.
We remember this tense moment at a media conference in 2001 where Dr Mahathir said in a loud tone: “Muktamad!” which resonated in the conference room.
That was the big news on national television and in the local newspapers. It was like a sort of victory dance for these media outlets. Mahathir says ‘Muktamad!’ as in a refusal by Dr M to allow Anwar to have surgery abroad.
The point is by the time the stories of how Anwar was suffering from back pain in jail became public, there were talks of allowing Anwar to leave Malaysia and have surgery in Munich.
Yes, why Munich of all places?
Lim Kit Siang wrote a blog post arguing that Abdullah Badawi should allow Anwar to have surgery in Germany.
In the post, Lim wrote the DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to allow former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to go to Munich, Germany for the endoscopic surgery “available only in Germany for his worsening spinal injuries.”
In 2001, Dr Mahathir made it clear he will never allow Anwar to leave the country for a surgery that could be done in Malaysia.