Malaysia's Reformist Icon Anwar Ibrahim Freed From Prison After Receiving Royal Pardon
16 May, 2018, 12:47 | Author: Diane Mills
The new prime minister also fired a warning shot at his predecesor Najib, saying there would be "no deal" over an investigation into Najib's role in a multi-billion-dollar scandal linked to the state investment fund 1MDB. Mahathir was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, making him the world's oldest democratically elected leader.
Dr Mahathir said in the WSJ report that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be freed today after receiving a royal pardon from the country's king. Without the pardon, Anwar would have been banned from politics for five years due to having a criminal record.
Anwar said he bore no ill-will against Najib as well, but added that latter must answer to the charge of "injustice" to the people.
A royal pardon would reverse Anwar's conviction and make him eligible to actively participate in politics.
Anwar emerged from the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital on Wednesday after Malaysia's Pardon Board, which included the current King, made a decision to overturn the 2015 conviction, which is widely accepted to be politically motivated. Anwar's freedom is expected to ease fears of a growing rift within the newly formed coalition government, after differences erupted between supporters of Mahathir and Anwar over cabinet positions and Anwar's role in the party.
Yesterday, Istana Negara Datuk Pengelola Bijaya Diraja Datuk Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V had consented that all procedures regarding the Pardons Board proceedings on Anwar be finalised tomorrow.
Anwar's People's Justice Party (PKR), which has the most seats in the alliance, is demanding a proportionate number of posts in the cabinet. Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah, was appointed Malaysia's new deputy prime minister by Mahathir on Saturday. He was Mahathir's deputy in the 1990s but fell out with his mentor during the Asian financial crisis.
Upon his release in 2004, Anwar galvanised the "Reformasi" movement against the Barisan Nasional coalition that Mahathir was then leading - and that Anwar himself had helped start before going to jail.
Faced with a leadership challenge, Mahathir used internal security laws to detain more than 100 opposition politicians, academics and social activists.
Angered by the graft scandal, Mahathir emerged from political retirement and joined the opposition in an attempt to oust Najib, his former protege.
Mahathir vowed on Monday to investigate any faults that may have been committed by Najib's government and said all ministries had been instructed not to destroy any documents. The cases against him have been politically motivated. Anwar needs to contest a by-election to become a member of Parliament before he can replace Mahathir.
Najib Razak has denied any wrongdoing and was cleared by Malaysia's attorney general at the time, while the fund has consistently denied any misconduct.
Mahathir also said he welcomed foreign direct investment in Malaysia by China and other countries, but such investment must bring in capital and technology and provide jobs for Malaysians.
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