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Everyone loves a good conspiracy
Publication Date : 27-01-2014
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was denied entry into Japan because of a prior conviction, and not all the talk about Putrajaya having a hand in it.
In the morning after news broke out that Anwar Ibrahim was denied entry into Japan, my Twitter timeline was abuzz with conspiracy theories.
One of the theories was that Putrajaya had a hand in Tokyo’s refusal to allow the opposition leader to enter the country on January 19.
That theory was fuelled by Anwar, who in his blog posting on the same day he was barred at Narita International Airport, wrote that he felt “hidden hands may be at work here” and demanded an explanation from Malaysia’s foreign ministry.
“The barring of Anwar Ibrahim from entering Japan raises serious questions on the involvement of this (the Malaysian) government,” Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) said in a separate statement.
In my Twitter timeline, someone tweeted “this is the reason why Anwar was banned from Japan” and posted a photograph of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe’s garden in Tokyo when Najib visited Japan in December.
As I’m into conspiracies, I thought there was a connection between Najib’s Japan visit and Anwar’s failed Japan visit.
NEO V.H. (@NonVitalTooth) tagged me in an Anwar tweet which @anwaribrahim posted, “99 conviction? But I was allowed in 06, 07, 12”.
I replied to @NonVitalTooth with, “in that case, looks like PM recent visit to Japan played a role”.
The brouhaha over Anwar’s failed Japan trip allowed the pro-government forces to strike back. They had been on the defence over the kangkung jokes.
One of the funniest anti-Anwar joke was a tweet by @khairulryezal (Khairul Rizal Osman): “This is the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) agent who denied Anwar Ibrahim from entering Japan.”
He posted a photograph of Ultraman with an Umno logo on his uniform.
Later, I had breakfast with a journalist who is familiar with Japanese affairs. He told me that no way could Putrajaya direct Tokyo to bar Anwar from entering the country.
“Huh? So it got nothing to do with the government???” I asked, rather disappointed that my conspiracy theory was wrong.
“You must understand Japan has strict immigration laws. There are procedures that need to be followed,” he said.
“But how did Anwar enter Japan previously? Why was he allowed to enter then? Why was he denied entry now?” I asked.
The journalist explained to me that Japan had strict immigration laws where it banned people with convictions from entering the country.
And for Anwar, who was found guilty of corruption for allegedly interfering with police investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct made against him, to get the ban lifted he needed to apply for an exemption.
“In his previous trips, this procedure was followed. Anwar applied for an exemption and the process takes a lot of bureaucratic paper work,” he said.
Later, another journalist, who knew somebody in Anwar’s office, said one of Anwar’s staff had committed a boo boo.
The next day, Japan embassy spokesman Tomoko Nagai confirmed that Anwar was denied entry into Japan due to his conviction in 1999.
Nagai said anyone who had a prior conviction in Japan or any other country and had had been jailed for a year or more would be denied entry into the country.
“As we know, Anwar was allowed to enter Japan in 2011 and 2012 but during both visits, he had special permission from the country.
“This time, however, he did not request for the special permission, and as such was not allowed to enter the country,” she said.
It is interesting to see on Twitter how many people (including me) fell for Anwar’s allusion that Putrajaya was involved in him getting barred from Japan.
Check out the tweet by Democratic Action Party's (DAP) Nga Kor Ming, the Taiping MP and Kepayang assemblyman who is a lawyer.
On January 21, @ngakorming tweeted: “Krjn Jepun tunduk kpd UMNO sehingga @anwaribrahim dihalang masuk. Tahniah! Najib semakin berkuasa. (The Japan government bows down to Umno until Anwar Ibrahim is stopped from entering. Congratulations! Najib is getting to be more powerful).”
I wonder whether the honourable MP and assemblyman will apologise for making a wild and unsubstantiated allegation.
Equally guilty are the Anwar die-hards.
Without checking their facts, Anwar supporters stomped and burned the Japanese flag outside the country’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
PKR supporters also called for a boycott of Japanese goods.
This lighted up Twitterjaya with Maria Ozawa (Google her, she’s a Japanese adult video actress) jokes.
@IMPetani: “Boikot Jepun? (Boycott Japan? LIARS We all know u can never quit Tina Yazuki and Maria Ozawa.”
@1Obefiend: “Seriously! Boycott Japanese products? You really want to forgo Maria Ozawa? Boleh kah? (Is it possible?)”
Speaking of Ozawa, according to Malay language daily Utusan Malaysia, Anwar could learn from the Japanese porn actress.
“In 2009, Ozawa was barred from entering Indonesia after various Muslim non-governmental organisations protested against it,” said columnist Awang Selamat.
“However, Ozawa did not take offence nor did she create a big fuss over being stopped from entering Indonesia,” he wrote.
“Ozawa did not blame the Indonesian authorities or any other party because she understood that she was the cause of the problem.”