Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar Ibrahim freed

17 May, 2018, 00:38 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • Malaysia's Anwar says Najib likely headed to jail

He is now en route to Istana Negara to meet with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Anwar Ibrahim, the Malaysian opposition leader and one of the world's most prominent prisoners of conscience, was freed from detention today on the orders of Mahathir Mohamad, the man who hounded him into prison two decades ago. The 70-year-old began serving a five-year sentence in February 2015 after the Malaysian high court upheld his conviction and sentence on a charge of having sodomised a former personal aide, Channel NewsAsia reports.

Holding a brief press conference, he thanked the people of Malaysia, who "stood by the principles of democracy and freedom" by voting against the ruling party and are now demanding "for change".

He has spent the last few months in hospital recovering from a shoulder operation.

Mahathir, who was prime minister for 22 years until in 2003, emerged from retirement to join hands with former political foes to oust Najib amid anger over the 1MDB scandal.

He was first arrested in 1998, while Deputy Prime Minister, after calling for political reform.

Anwar, who needs to contest a by-election to become a member of Parliament, said he doesn't want a Cabinet post yet as he plans to spend time with his family and travel overseas for speaking engagements. He made his sacrifices and was maligned in the media.

"His Majesty told me during our meeting today, "I am impressed with her (Dr Wan Azizah)". He facilitated my release. Asked about their past feuds, he said "I have forgiven him", adding "why should I harbor malice against him?"


Party spokesman Fahmi Fadzil said he has been pardoned by the king.

On his readiness to accept any post if offered, Anwar said: "I have informed Tun Mahathir that it is better for him, Wan Azizah and the team to continue and just allow me take some time for my family, even though it is my wife who will be deputy prime minister".

It was Anwar's second spell in prison.

Anwar was jailed for sodomy and corruption.

His 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.

The euphoric scenes that greeted the release of Malaysia's reformist Anwar Ibrahim from jail on Wednesday would have been unimaginable just last week, when the country's longtime authoritarian regime looked set for another general election victory. Najib started the fund in 2009 and US investigators say at least $4.5 billion was stolen and laundered by Najib's associates, some of which landed in his bank account.

"This is an opportunity for both of them to move forward for the sake of the country", he said.

The field was muddy and soggy from the heavy afternoon downpour, but that did not deter a large crowd of Malaysians from gathering in Padang Timur to catch a glimpse of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

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