Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 15:43 GMT
Malaysia's trial of the century
Mr Anwar's fall from grace was dramatic, but is he still a political threat?
The trial of Malaysia's former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, was a dramatic chapter in Malaysian politics. It could also prove to have been a decisive one.
The trial and subsequent verdict were accompanied by street protests and nationwide publicity. It was a spectacular fall from grace for a man once seen as Dr Mahathir's chosen political heir.
Dr Mahathir sacked his young protege in September 1998 after months of disagreement over economic policy. As finance minister, Mr Anwar had strongly opposed Dr Mahathir's increasingly virulent attacks against western financiers in the wake of the Asian economic crisis.
Shortly after he was arrested Mr Anwar appeared in court with a black eye - the result of a beating by police. Pictures of the man who had once seemed destined to become prime minister limping into court sent shockwaves around the world.
Mr Anwar denied the charges, maintaining from the outset that he was the victim of a high-level conspiracy.
The trial saw lurid and highly public accusations about Mr Anwar's sexual behaviour, with prosecutors at one stage producing a mattress in court which they said showed semen stains from his alleged sexual misconduct.
Halfway through the trial the prosecution re-wrote the charges so that they no longer had to prove any of the alleged sexual liaisons took place - merely that he abused his office in an effort to cover them up.
Supporters of Mr Anwar, both in Malaysia and overseas, communicated through the Internet about what became the opposition's cause celebre.
When Mr Anwar was finally sent to prison after months of highly-charged court proceedings, there were riots by his supporters on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
Trial number two
In poor health, he now faces a second trial, which began in June, this time on sodomy charges.
Dr Mahathir himself had been due to testify against his former colleague, but observers point out that a showdown between the prime minister and Mr Anwar in court might not have been good pre-election publicity.
In the months since the trial, Malaysia's socialist and Islamic opposition parties have come together to unveil a joint election manifesto promising political and economic reforms. They accuse the government of cronyism and nepotism.
Mr Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah, who has formed the National Justice Party has been the driving force behind the opposition's electoral coalition.
She has named her husband and the coalition's candidate for prime minister in the event of a surprise win.
Dr Mahathir, meanwhile has been dismissive of the political controversy surrounding Mr Anwar. Only foreigners, he says, thought the Anwar issue was important.
The elections will show whether he is right.