Malaysia: Anwar Ibrahim’s release postponed to Wednesday

Pardons board moves by a day the meeting on pardon of former deputy prime minister who has been in jail since 2015.

Anwar is currently in a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, where he is recovering after a surgery in his shoulder [AP]
Anwar is currently in a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, where he is recovering after a surgery in his shoulder [AP]

The release of Malaysia’s former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has been postponed, after the country’s pardons board moved its meeting to Wednesday to discuss the royal pardon.

According to a statement issued by the office of Malaysia’s king, Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, it was satisfied with all the procedures for Anwar’s release, but the office of the prime minister requested that the meeting be “postponed” to May 16, Malaysia Kini news portal reported.

“The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong has consented to the request for the matter to be finalised on May 16, Wednesday, in conjunction with Ramadan,” royal official, Wan Ahmad Dahlan, was quoted as saying. 

Anwar’s wife, the Deputy Prime Minister-designate, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, has discussed the issue with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the report said.

Anwar’s party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and his lawyer, R Sivarasa, have also confirmed the postponement to Wednesday, according to several reports.  

“The petition is submitted by family members and is based on the ground that the conviction of Anwar is a miscarriage of justice, and secondly, on his current health situation,” Sivarasa was quoted by Malaysia Kini as saying.

Anwar is currently in Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, where he is recovering after a surgery in his shoulder.

On Saturday, Channel NewsAsia cited Nurul Izzah, Anwar’s daughter, as saying that his father will be released on Tuesday.

Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah [2nd left], is the designated deputy prime minister of the new government [AP]

Next prime minister?

Anwar’s party PKR holds 48 seats of the 113 seats won by the Pakatan Harapan alliance on Wednesday, and he is widely tipped to succeed Mahathir once he steps down from office.  

In 2015, Anwar, 70, was jailed for five years after being accused of sodomy, a charge he described as a politically motivated attempt by Prime Minister Najib Razak to end his career.

Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where the offence carries a jail term of up to 20 years.

Under Malaysian law, unless he is pardoned by the king, Anwar would be disqualified for five years from running for office after his release.

Anwar was also imprisoned for six years after being overthrown as Mahathir’s deputy prime minister in 1998 on earlier charges of sodomising his former family driver and abusing his power.

He was freed in 2004 after Malaysia’s top court quashed that sodomy conviction.

Anwar previously had a falling out with Mahathir after he criticised some of his policies. But his party eventually formed an alliance with Mahathir to take on Najib’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) for the election on Wednesday.  

In recent weeks, Mahathir acknowledged the suffering of Anwar and his family.

“I know how Anwar feels. It was during my administration that he was sent to [prison]. It is not easy for him to accept me and shake my hand,” The Malaysia Insight quoted Mahathir as saying.

“And it’s not just Anwar but his family as well who felt pressure when he was jailed. They suffered for 20 years.”

Source: Al Jazeera


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