By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — The Barisan Nasional Youth and Malay rights group Perkasa gathered separately outside the Australian High Commission here today to protest against 50 Australian MPs who had asked for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be freed of his sodomy charge.
BN Youth claimed it gathered 600 members headed by chief Khairy Jamaluddin and his Umno Youth deputy, Datuk Razali Ibrahim for the gathering. Khairy later led a delegation to hand over a protest memorandum to High Commissioner Penny Williams.
The crowd had earlier gathered at a nearby restaurant some 200 metres from the mission as early as 8.30 am and later marched towards the building carrying placards, banners with “Don’t Mess With Our Affairs!”, “Jaga Negara Sendiri (take care of your own country)” written on it.
As they marched, the crowd shouted “mind, mind, mind your own business” and “to hell with Australia”.
A Light Strike Force squad was deployed to form a barricade and prevent the crowd from gathering at the mission’s outer compound.
Only Khairy, Razali and MIC youth chief T Mohan were allowed to pass through the barricade.
Khairy later told reporters that he had met Australian High Commissioner Penny Williams to hand over the memorandum, which among others, demanded the Australian government to make their stand on the issue clear.
“We also want an open apology from the 50 MPs and we want them to retract the petition,” he said.
“This act is a clear interference with our internal affairs and an encroachment to our sovereignty and we will tolerate none of this,” Khairy added.
The BN and Umno Youth chief said the Australian High Commission had assured him that their government has no intentions of meddling with Malaysia’s affairs and are not prejudging the ongoing Sodomy II trial, a charge Anwar and other opposition leaders claimed is “trumped up” to kill its surging influence.
Khairy, however, slammed the accusations and said he believed the ongoing trial will take place in a transparent and fair manner unlike what is claimed by the opposition.
The 50 Australian MPs last week said the Malaysian government should drop the sodomy charge against Anwar, who leads the Pakatan Rakyat opposition pact. Anwar is charged with sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan on June 26, 2008.
The former deputy prime minister has denied the charge, the second such charge in 12 years.
Perkasa president and Pasir Mas MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who led his own members behind the BN Youth, was less diplomatic when stating his view to reporters outside the Australian High Commission.
Ibrahim said the reason why Michael Danby, the MP who led 49 others to hand in the petition calling for the charge to be dropped, is “supporting” Anwar is because he is a homosexual, a derogatory description leveled against Anwar by his political rivals.
“Birds of a feather flock together.I heard that Danby is a homosexual.” The BN Back Benchers Club (BNBBC) also sent a separate protest note at 11.15 am.
BNBBC deputy chairman Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mukhtar Radin handed over their protest memorandum to Williams.
Bung Mukhtar told reporters that Williams had assured them that the views of Danby and the 49 MPs do not represent the Australian government’s stand.
He also said that the Australian MPs should not be carried away by Anwar’s side of the story. The opposition icon has been vigorously engaging the international media in a bid to woo support. “The case is not approached by the government but Saiful,” said the Kinabatangan MP. “Because the case is not broached by the government so how can they ask the judiciary to drop the case?” he added.