A Japanese Embassy official in Kuala Lumpur said that Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the opposition party in Malaysia, was denied entry into Japan for failure to get a visa. Anwar was at the Narita International Airport when immigration officials denied his entry and referred to his conviction to charges of sodomy and corruption in 1999. He was in Japan on a personal visit, as a Japanese NGO invited him to be a speaker at a conference about religious harmony.
While Anwar suspected that “hidden hands” were at play in such a move, Japanese envoy Tomoko Nagai countered that a visa is required of Anwar because of his past criminal record. Last year, Japan lifted the requirement of a visa for Malaysians to enter the country. Anwar’s previous visits did not require him to apply for a visa, and as there are no records of former applications, “Japan could not consider a special arrangement for Anwar since we did not receive any prior application for a visa,” she said. “Puzzled and shocked” over the refusal, Anwar called for Japanese and Malaysian governments to explain why it happened.
The Malaysian government denied having any connection with what happened. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said that they have no involvement whatsoever with what happened, despite Anwar’s suspicions. Once heir-apparent to the ruling party in Malaysia, Anwar was imprisoned for six years in 1999 over charges of sodomy and corruption. Many of his followers believe that it was black propaganda against his popularity. He then proceeded to form the opposition group, Justice Party, which has been gaining ground over the ruling coalition since the 2008 elections. The opposition maintains the ruling party of harassment and smear campaign against Anwar to prevent the rise of the opposition.
[via Channel News Asia]
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