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Malaysia: Opposition icon Anwar gets royal pardon, released from prison

16 May, 2018, 11:21 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • Police enter home of ousted Malaysian PM Najib

Mahathir, who built much of his campaign by accusing Najib of corruption, vowed to control corruption and cronyism after the election.

Dressed in a suit, Anwar waved to reporters as he was whisked from a hospital, where he was recovering from shoulder surgery, to an audience with Malaysia's king.

Mahathir said after winning a parliamentary seat, Anwar could potentially be appointed to the Cabinet.

PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution said Anwar was expected to be released after the Pardons Board meets at 11am tomorrow to discuss the application for his release and full pardon.

"[In] an initial stage, maybe lasting one or two years, I will be prime minister", Mahathir told a Wall Street Journal conference in Tokyo via video link.

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.

Mahathir, 92, said he thought that "in a short while" the government could have a case against his predecessor, Najib Razak, who has been dogged by a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr Mahathir has promised to step aside for Mr Anwar to become prime minister within two years.

Malaysia's king has agreed to pardon him, paving the way for his return to politics. "I must thank the people of Malaysia", Anwar said.

"The first question I am taking is from TV3", he joked, alluding to the fact that the TV station had carried a lot of negative stories about him and other Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders in the past before the pact took over Putrajaya.

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Cracks have already emerged, with officials from Anwar's party alleging that Mahathir bulldozed the announcement of three top Cabinet posts.

But differences with the proud Mahathir over how to respond to the 1998 Asian financial crisis spiraled into a bitter rift as Anwar called for reform and an end to UMNO corruption and nepotism.

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

The question for Malaysia now is how Anwar will get along with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, his ally-turned-foe-turned-ally, and what role he will play in government.

"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.

Mahathir was once Najib's mentor but he left the former ruling party over the 1MDB affair and joined the opposition.

Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.

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.

After barring Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor from leaving the country on Saturday, the leader said criminal charges may be imminent.

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