Friday, 19 October, 2018

Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar freed, given royal pardon

PKR political bureau member R. Sivarasa speaks to the media at Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Pic by MOHD KHAIRUL HELMY MOHD DIN PKR political bureau member R. Sivarasa speaks to the media at Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. Pic by MOHD KHAIRUL HELMY MOHD DIN
Deanna Wagner | 16 May, 2018, 09:30

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar Ibrahim has been freed from custody after receiving a royal pardon, paving the way for a political comeback following his alliance's stunning election victory.

Smiling and waving to supporters, Anwar, dressed in a black suit and tie and his hair neatly swept back, was surrounded by his family, lawyers and prison guards before driving to the palace for an audience with King Sultan Muhammad V.

Anwar, 70, is serving a second five-year jail term for sodomy.

"Right now, we want the government helmed by (Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to function smoothly".

"The pardons board has already met and the king has granted a full pardon, which means all past convictions have been expunged", his lawyer, Sivarasa Rasiah, said.

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The pardon allows Anwar to re-enter active politics immediately, but it was not clear what his role in government would be.

Yet rather than give up, Anwar worked from his prison cell to forge a new opposition alliance by ending the two-decade feud with Mahathir - a gamble that paid off when the alliance won the May 9 polls and ended the National Front's 60-year grip on power. "Now we need to see him become prime minister". Wearing a white shirt printed with a photograph of Anwar and the words "March 2 Freedom", he said he nevertheless believed Anwar and Mahathir could work together and that the alliance's prospects were good.

"A pardon based on a miscarriage of justice, a separation met with an eventual embrace", she said in an Instagram post.

Saifuddin Nasution, a party leader in the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, told reporters that Anwar is also expected to attend a gathering with his supporters after his release.

Wan Azizah said Anwar was expected to be released at 5pm on Wednesday, after which he would appear at the Merdeka Rakyat rally at Padang Timur.