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Malaysia's Anwar Seeks Permission to Go Abroad for Medical Treatment - 2004-07-14

Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's jailed former deputy prime minister, has been moved to a Kuala Lumpur hospital after a lingering back problem reportedly deteriorated. His lawyers have renewed calls for the government to allow him to undergo an operation in Germany.

Mr. Anwar was moved to the government-run Kuala Lumpur General Hospital late Tuesday after he started complaining of a loss of feeling in one of his legs.

His lawyer said an examination by doctors showed that a slipped disc had caused damage to his spinal column, which in turn caused a swelling of his kidneys.

Mr. Anwar's family has been pressing the government to allow him to be treated at a specialist clinic in Germany since he developed back problems in 2001.

Anwar family lawyer Sankara Nair says his client needs urgent attention.

"He was admitted at about 11:30 last night. His condition is not good," he said. "Various complications are beginning to show. It was explained three years ago that if he does not undergo surgery and treatment for his back pains for slipped disc, he will suffer other complications like bladder and kidney dysfunction, and it is already starting."

But the administration of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has so far stood its ground on the issue, saying Mr. Anwar could receive treatment in Malaysia. Mr. Anwar maintains that the surgery he would undergo in Germany would be less intrusive.

Mr. Nair, the attorney, said there was no sign that the government was willing to budge.

"At this stage it does not appear to be so, but I have made an application, and we have made applications before, and that application stands. If they have conclusive evidence of further deterioration, there is no excuse," he said.

Mr. Anwar was fired as finance minister and prime minister-in-waiting in 1998 following accusations by his boss, then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, of corruption and sodomy. The two men fell out over the government's response to the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and 1998.

The move by Mr. Mahathir to dismiss Mr. Anwar and prosecute him triggered the worst political riots in the country's history.

Mr. Anwar, who has always maintained his innocence, eventually received jail terms totaling 15 years.