An­war Ibrahim walks free

Malaysian politi­cian An­war Ibrahim was sen­tenced in 2015 to a five-year term on a charge he says was trumped up by the government of ousted prime min­is­ter Na­jib Razak

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

KUALA LUMPUR: Jailed Malaysian re­formist An­war Ibrahim was granted a full par­don and freed on Wed­nes­day, cap­ping dra­matic changes in the South­east Asian coun­try since the government was ousted in an elec­tion up­set last week.

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

An­war, 70, said he would like to take time off with his fam­ily and did not in­tend to join the cabi­net any time soon.

He said he would support the government led by Ma­hathir and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Wan Az­izah Wan Is­mail, who is An­war’s wife.

“I’ve told Tun Ma­hathir, I don’t need to serve in the cabi­net for now,” An­war said, us­ing an hon­orific for the prime min­is­ter. An­war has been in hospi­tal for some months, for surgery on a shoul­der.

But he looked in fine fet­tle as he walked free for the first time in three years, dressed in a black suit and tie, his hair neatly swept back.

Sup­port­ers chanted “Re­for­masi” (Re­form), the move­ment he launched two decades ago to chal­lenge di­verse Malaysia’s race- and pa­tron­age-based pol­i­tics.

An­war was sen­tenced in 2015 to a five-year term on a charge he says was trumped up by the government of ousted prime min­is­ter Na­jib Razak.

Ma­hathir, with whom An­war joined forces to win last Wed­nes­day’s elec­tion, greeted him at the palace where they both met the king. An­war was Ma­hathir’s deputy in the 1990s but fell out with his men­tor dur­ing the Asian fi­nan­cial cri­sis. He was sacked from the rul­ing party and founded the Re­for­masi move­ment, chal­leng­ing Ma­hathir’s government.

Within weeks, he was ar­rested and jailed. Im­ages at the time of a goa­teed, be­spec­ta­cled An­war in court with a black eye and bruises brought con­dem­na­tion of Ma­hathir from around the world.

Af­ter be­ing freed in 2004, An­war was jailed a sec­ond time. Both times, he and his sup­port­ers have said the charges were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

An­war later told a news con­fer­ence at his home he had forgiven the vet­eran leader, who was a pug­na­cious, un­com­pro­mis­ing prime min­is­ter for 22 years from 1981.

“I and Ma­hathir have buried the hatchet al­ready, it was a long time ago,” An­war said as he sat at a table un­der a mar­quee set up in the drive­way of his home, his tie and jacket off and sleeves rolled up, af­ter re­turn­ing from the palace.

“I have forgiven him, he has proved his met­tle. Why should I har­bour any mal­ice towards him?” An­war said, speak­ing above sup­port­ers sound­ing their car horns and a trop­i­cal down­pour.

The par­don, which en­ables An­war to re-en­ter pol­i­tics im­me­di­ately, was granted on the grounds that there had been a mis­car­riage of jus­tice. Un­der a pre-elec­tion pact, Ma­hathir, 92, had vowed to en­able An­war’s re­lease and even­tu­ally step aside for him to be­come prime min­is­ter.

On Tues­day, Ma­hathir said he ex­pected to be prime min­is­ter for one or two more years, set­ting off talk of fresh dif­fer­ences be­tween the two. “See­ing him walk free makes me emo­tional, but the fight is not over,” said Ridzuan Is­mail, an An­war sup­porter at the hospi­tal.”Now we need to see him be­come prime min­is­ter.”

Jack Seng, another sup­porter wear­ing a shirt with an image of An­war be­hind bars, said he thought Ma­hathir and An­war would re­solve any ten­sion be­tween them.

Full story @ time­so­fo­

– Reuters

PAR­DONED: Malaysian politi­cian An­war Ibrahim ges­tures dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Wed­nes­day.

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