RIGHT WAY: You can't practise civil disobedience and pretend to be innocent, says daily
KUALA LUMPUR: OPPOSITION leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should plead guilty to taking part in an illegal street protest if he believed the government's reforms were inadequate, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said.
In an opinion piece titled "Malaysian People's Court, Anwar's civil disobedience and the next election", the influential international financial daily said "if Anwar wants to practise civil disobedience, he can't pretend to be innocent at the same time".
"A more straightforward way to convince the public that the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) is an unjust law would be to plead guilty and pay the fine ahead of the election," the publication said in its Review and Outlook Asia column.
Anwar, who is Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto leader, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and PKR Rembau head Badrul Hisham Shaharin were charged recently with violating a court order by inciting protesters to break the barricades and enter Dataran Merdeka during last month's Bersih 3.0 rally.
They trio were the first to be charged under the PAA, which came into force earlier this year as part of a slew of reforms aimed at greater political freedom.
The WSJ said while Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak deserved credit for his reforms, the opposition also had good reasons to criticise them as inadequate.
"The real question is whether Malaysian society is best served by a faster pace of change or the opposition's confrontational tactics.
"Both sides have to learn to put their faith in the electorate rather than the courts".
The WSJ also said that, with Anwar having twice been exonerated from charges of sodomy, "one might assume this is another politically-motivated prosecution".
"But this case is different. Anwar was practising civil disobedience, and now he is paying the price."