Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim released after full pardon
THE JAILED Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim was released from prison yesterday after being officially pardoned. Walking free from a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Anwar said he would support the government led by his ally-turnedfoe-turned-ally Mahathir Mohamad.
JAILED Malaysian reformist Anwar Ibrahim was granted a full pardon yesterday and walked free from a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, capping dramatic changes in the Southeast Asian country since the government was ousted in an election upset last week.
Anwar, 70, smiled and waved to supporters as he walked out of hospital, dressed in a black suit and tie and his hair neatly swept back. He was surrounded by his family, lawyers and prison guards before driving to the palace for an audience with King Sultan Muhammad V.
“Now there is a new dawn for Malaysia. I must thank the people of Malaysia,” Anwar said. “The entire spectrum of Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, have stood by the principles of democracy and freedom. They demand change.”
Supporters chanted “Reformasi” (Reform), the movement he launched two decades ago to challenge diverse Malaysia’s race- and patronage-based politics.
Anwar has served three years of a fiveyear term for sodomy, a charge he says was trumped up by the government of ousted Prime Minister Najb Razak.
Following his release, Anwar said he would give full support to the government led by his ally-turned-foe-turned-ally Mahathir Mohamad, but would not immediately be part of it.
Anwar had been recovering from a shoulder injury in hospital under police guard. He 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. He was later arrested and jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption. 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.
Anwar’s trial became a spectacle, with prosecutors at one stage bringing out what they said was a semen-stained mattress allegedly used when he had sex with two male aides. After being freed, Anwar was jailed a second time for sodomy in 2015. Both times, he and his supporters have said the charges were politically motivated. The pardon, granted on the grounds that there was a miscarriage of justice, allows Anwar to re-enter politics immediately.