A petition to the Obama administration to free jailed opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been removed from the White House website for petitions, just as it neared the goal of reaching 100,000 signatures.
The website, which carried the petition earlier, now reads: “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.â€
Earlier today, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang urged more people to sign the petition, which required another 5,000 signatures to hit 100,000, the threshold for a US government response.
Lim tweeted his confidence that the number could be reached by 5pm today, ahead of the March 12 deadline.
But soon after, a check at the website showed that the plea to free Anwar had been removed.
PKR Batu MP and vice-president Tian Chua said Putrajaya may be behind the petition’s removal.
He tweeted: “The FreeAnwar petition Whitehouse has been suspended–i suspect Malaysian government has sabotaged the petition and undermined the process”.
It is not clear why the petition has been shut and The Malaysian Insider is making attempts to find out the reasons.
The petition was started by former US ambassador to Malaysia John R. Malott, who launched it soon after the Federal Court’s verdict upholding Anwar’s sodomy conviction on February 10.
There is a counter-petition, however, titled “Respecting the sovereign nation of Malaysia” on the White House website for petitions.
It appears to have been started shortly after Malott’s petition to free Anwar, as it expires on March 13. It currently has 72,884 signatures and also needs to reach 100,000 to qualify for a response.
The petition says that “citizens of Malaysia are outraged” with the White House for expressing “deep disappointment” with Anwar’s conviction and for questioning Malaysia’s judiciary and rule of law.
“The DNA that supported this case matched 16 out of 16. Anwar also chose not to offer his own samples in court which could have cleared him. Initially, Anwar offered 14 witnesses, but none came forward. He refused cross-examination.
“In regards to the reputation of Malaysia, the USA has to first look at their own human rights issue and stop the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. We peace-loving Malaysians urge that USA stop interfering in Malaysia’s judiciary and rule of law,” the counter-petition said.
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”.-The Malaysian Insider