Malaysian reformist Anwar Ibrahim walks free after royal pardon

May 16, 2018, 11:21
Malaysian reformist Anwar Ibrahim walks free after royal pardon

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar Ibrahim was freed from custody on Wednesday after receiving a royal pardon, transforming a political prisoner into a prime minister-in-waiting following his alliance's stunning election victory.

After Najib lost last week's election, new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said he would reopen investigations into 1MDB and declassify the audit report. "There will be no special powers given except as are given to ministers or deputy ministers or deputy prime ministers", Mahathir said.

Anwar, 70, is expected to walk free Wednesday after obtaining a royal pardon, but his expected return to politics could cause tensions in the new government led by his former foe, Mahathir Mohamad. He was set to meet the king after leaving the hospital, and planned to speak to media in the afternoon.

The ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, for which PKR is the lead party, plans to make Anwar prime minister once he has successfully won a by-election for a parliamentary seat, making him eligible for the premiership.

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Anwar began his five-year jail sentence in February 2015 after the Federal Court upheld his guilty verdict on the charge of sodomising his former personal assistant.

He may have been in prison for the past three years, but for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, it is nearly as if he never left active politics. While in prison, he was reportedly beaten so bad that his shoulder sustained lasting injuries.

He maintains his innocence, and says on both occasions Mahathir and Najib turned to trumping up charges against him to keep him out of politics. His wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who heads Anwar's party, is now the new deputy prime minister. After that Mr Anwar was jailed on charges of committing sodomy and abusing power. "I've told Tun Mahathir, I don't need to serve in the cabinet for now", he said, using an honorofic for the prime minister.

"Many have asked me how it is that our reform movement has now joined forces with the very same former dictator, Mahathir Mohamad, who sacked my father in 1998 and saw him arrested, brutalized and incarcerated", Anwar's daughter Nurul Izzah, wrote in an article for the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday.

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In his four-decade career, Anwar has changed his political colors with the readiness of a chameleon in an ambitious pursuit of leadership in the multiethnic, Muslim-majority country.

In an astonishing U-turn past year, Anwar shook hands with Mahathir and agreed to join forces to oust scandal-tainted Najib.

"The base case is that Mahathir passes the baton to Anwar".

Senior officials at scandal-plagued state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) withheld information from its board and took some decisions without the board's approval, according to a Malaysian government audit of the fund that was declassified on Tuesday. Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing.

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The head of Malaysia's anti-corruption watchdog resigned on Monday, while attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali was put on leave as Mr Mahathir moved to step up the investigation into allegations of corruption at the 1MDB fund, which has attracted the attention of prosecutors and regulators around the world.

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