Tue06192018

LAST_UPDATETue, 19 Jun 2018 12am

Anwar Ibrahim Freed From Prison After Royal Pardon From Malaysian King

 Pic: CNA Pic: CNA

KUALA LUMPUR: Jailed Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader Anwar Ibrahim on Wednesday (May 16) left the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital a free man after receiving a royal pardon from the Malaysian king.

The Pardons Board met at 11am to discuss Anwar's release and application for a pardon.

Smiling and looking spry in a tailored black suit, Anwar emerged from a Kuala Lumpur hospital where he had undergone surgery for a shoulder problem, giving a thumbs-up to a crowd of journalists before leaving in a car without comment.

Anwar and his wife, the nominated deputy prime minister, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, were earlier on Wednesday morning invited for an audience with the king, Sultan Muhammad V, at 12.30pm at the royal palace.

According to Anwar's lawyer, the king granted the PKR leader a full pardon, expunging all past convictions.

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.

Anwar was jailed in Sungai Buloh Prison, and was scheduled to be freed on Jun 8. He has spent the last few months in hospital recovering from a shoulder operation.

The royal pardon reverses Anwar's conviction and makes him eligible to actively participate in politics. His daughter Nurul Izzah told Channel NewsAsia on the eve of his release that the pardon "completely validate(s) his innocence".

Newly elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said he will hand over the reins to Anwar once the latter is elected as a Member of Parliament in a by-election or elected as a senator.

On Tuesday, Dr Mahathir told a Wall Street Journal conference that he will be prime minister for "one or two years".

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Dr Wan Azizah also said the appointment of her husband as Malaysia's new prime minister will not be made in haste.

The reversal of Anwar's conviction and his role as PM-in-waiting caps a roller coaster political career for the former deputy prime minister. In 1998, he was sacked by then-Prime Minister Dr Mahathir.

A year later, Anwar was sentenced to six years in prison - and then another nine years for corruption and sodomy.

In 2004, he was freed after the sodomy conviction was overturned. He became the de facto leader of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance and in the 2008 general election, led it to victory in the states of Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Kelantan and Perak.

In 2015, he was sent back to jail on the sodomy charge - a move he said was a bid by then-Prime Minister Najib Razak to end his political career.

He eventually teamed up with his former foe, Dr Mahathir, and watched his former boss sworn in as the country's seventh prime minister from his hospital bed.

- Channel News Asia