Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Jailed Malaysian Opposition Leader Pardoned, Could Become PM

Jailed Malaysian Opposition Leader Pardoned, Could Become PM

"The entire spectrum of Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, have stood by the principles of democracy and freedom". Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, endorsed Mahathir and served as his deputy in the coalition to oust Najib. He was later arrested and jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption.

As he left the hospital, Anwar waved at the large crowd of journalists and supporters gathered outside the facility but did not say anything to them.

An advocate for reform, clean government and an end to the previous government's authoritarian ways, Mr Anwar made no immediate comment but was expected to address the public in the afternoon followed by a political rally in the evening. "I can not complain very much", he said.

After being freed, Anwar was jailed a second time for sodomy in 2015. He and his supporters have said the charges are politically motivated.

A gifted natural politician and witty orator, Anwar rose quickly, heading various ministries, including the finance portfolio starting in 1991, while reinventing himself as a reformist who was praised in the West.

Anwar's lawyer, Sivarasa Rasiah, told reporters that the king's full pardon would mean that all of the former opposition leader's past convictions have been expunged.

In "an initial stage, maybe lasting one or two years, I will be the prime minister", Mahathir said, speaking by live video link from Kuala Lumpur to a Wall Street Journal CEO conference in Tokyo.

"But Mahathir may be reluctant to hand over to his former nemesis, and if he drags his feet other scenarios could come into play", said Peter Mumford of the Eurasia Group in a research note. Without the pardon, Anwar would have been banned from politics for five years due to having a criminal record.

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"He did good [before] and can do good for the whole of Malaysia", he said.

"I am disappointed because I had hoped he could be prime minister as soon as possible", said Talib Ibrahim, an Anwar supporter outside the hospital.

Asked on Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah whose service contract as Treasury Secretary-General had been shortened to June 14 this year due to any wrongdoings after the secretaries-general of ministries meeting on Monday, Dr Mahathir said the government was now investigating and certain steps needed to be taken to facilitate investigation.

Jack Seng, another supporter wearing a shirt with a logo of Anwar behind bars, said he thought Mahathir and Anwar would resolve any tensions between them.

The 70-year-old Anwar walked out of a hospital in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday where he was receiving treatment for a shoulder injury, and headed for a meeting with King Sultan Muhammad V. "Now we need to see him become prime minister".

The release of long-time Malaysian opposition leader and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim is a landmark moment for human rights in the country, the organization said today.

But there have been differences between the two over the cabinet formation, and Mahathir made it clear on Tuesday that he was in charge. He added that he would make the final decision about cabinet posts.

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