Anwar shocked as Japan bars entry
MALAYSIAN opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday he was "puzzled and shocked" over being barred entry to Japan, as his party questioned whether Malaysia's ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, was behind the move.
Datuk Seri Anwar said he arrived at Narita International Airport on a personal visit early Sunday and was told by the immigration authorities that he was barred because of his 1999 conviction for sodomy and corruption.
The controversial conviction, which cast the then rising political star out of Malaysia's long-time ruling party and into jail for six years, is viewed by many as a set-up by his enemies.
Mr Anwar, 66, said: "It is not the way for a democratic country to treat an opposition political leader and a veteran politician." He called on Malaysia's government to "probe this incident and lodge a strong protest against Tokyo".
Mr Anwar said he protested to Japanese immigration officials, saying the conviction was an invalid reason to refuse his entry and that he visited Japan on three occasions since 2006 without incident.
Officials told him vaguely that they were responding to a more recent "report" against him, he said.
Mr Anwar added that he had been invited to Japan to deliver a speech on inter-religious harmony by a Japanese non-governmental organisation.
He returned to Malaysia on a later flight.
Mr Anwar said Japan's embassy in Malaysia had told him before the trip there would be no problem entering the country.
Foreign Minister Anifah Aman later told reporters in Kuala Lumpur that the Malaysian government had nothing to do with the matter and that Japan's border controls were its own affair.