Anwar Recalls The 'Black Eye' Incident In 1998 & How He Thought He Was Going To Die
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim may have reached the pinnacle of Malaysian politics following an unprecedented political crisis that saw four prime ministers change in as many years, but the remnants of the scars and fears he sustained during his torturous journey to the top are still there
Anwar, who became the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia following last year's general elections, was recently interviewed by Al Jazeera's 101 East programme. During the interview, he recalled the 1998 incident of police brutality against him and how then Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Abdul Rahim Noor punched him, giving him the infamous black eye. It would later go on to become the symbol of PKR.
"The night I was badly assaulted, I was thinking of my parents, Azizah, and the family," he said, referring to his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who took the mantle of leading an opposition party.
"Because of the severity of the attack, I thought I would not survive," Anwar recalled.
Anwar's fears that he was going to die were warranted, given the way he was tortured in police custody inside the Bukit Aman headquarters
On the night of 20 September 1998, Anwar was brought to Bukit Aman, the headquarters of the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), where he was blindfolded, handcuffed behind his back, and assaulted by Rahim.
However, his black eye only came to public light on 29 September when Anwar appeared in court.
At the time, Rahim and then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tried to pin the blame on Anwar, saying the black eye was a "self-inflicted" injury that Anwar caused by "pressing a glass over his eyes".
It was only on 28 February 1999, after a Royal Commission was convened, did Rahim confess — after five months — that he slapped, punched, and karate-kicked Anwar, causing him to pass out on the floor.
The assault left him with a black eye and injuries, which doctors said could have been fatal.
Late Datuk Seri Karpal Singh, who was Anwar's lawyer at the time, decried the assault.
"This was an assault on a defenceless man who was blindfolded, handcuffed at the back, and assaulted, not just anywhere but in the inner sanctum, the headquarters of the police force," he said at the time.
Following the Royal Commission enquiry and his confession, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court found Rahim guilty of the assault in 2000
He was given a two-month prison sentence and slapped with a fine of RM2,000, a penalty which a human rights group, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), called "merely a light slap on his wrist".
After Anwar was released from prison in 2004, he filed a civil case against the government, Mahathir, and Rahim. A year later, he won the case with Rahim issuing an apology that was read out in court.
In his apology, Rahim said that he takes responsibility for the assault.
"The pain and hurt caused to you and to your family is deeply regretted. I sincerely apologise to you, Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim, and your family for the same," read Rahim's apology, which was accepted by Anwar.