See More on Facebook

Politics

Anwar Ibrahim is free at last

After years behind bars, popular Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim is free.


Written by

Updated: May 17, 2018

The leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) – a component party of the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition – received a full pardon from the King on Wednesday (May 16) morning, leaving him free to make a return to politics.

“The Pardons Board had presented recommendations to the Agong [King] who agreed to give Anwar a full pardon,” Anwar’s lawyer S. Sivarasa is quoted as saying in The Star.

“He is not only physically free but free to participate in the nation’s politics, as though past convictions have been expunged,” he said.

Anwar’s release came a week after Pakatan Harapan ended the decades-long rule of Barisan Nasional in Malaysia’s bitterly fought 14th general election – with the man who once imprisoned him at the helm.

 In a surprise move earlier this year, the opposition named Mahathir their candidate for prime minister on the condition that Anwar take over should he receive a royal pardon.

Anwar will not take the reins immediately.

“In the initial stages, maybe lasting one or two years, I will have to be the Prime Minister and I will have to run the country,” The Star quoted Mahathir as saying on Tuesday at a Wall Street Journal event in Tokyo.

He also said that he would continue to play a role “in the background.”

In order to become prime minister, Anwar will also have to become a member of Parliament first but he is in no rush to return to politics.

“I’ll be taking time off to give a series of talks in Harvard, Georgetown and a few Muslim countries,” Anwar is quoted in The Star as saying during his first press conference after his release.

Anwar’s release marks the latest turn in a particularly turbulent political career. As an Islamist student leader in the 1970s, he showed no fear of rocking the boat, participating in mass demonstrations that landed him in prison.

In 1982, Anwar joined UMNO, the dominant party within the Barisan Nasional coalition, and rose swiftly up the ranks.

He headed multiple ministries before landing the coveted role of finance minister in 1991. By 1993, he had become deputy prime minister to Mahathir and was widely viewed as his heir-apparent.

Just five years later, disagreements over corruption and economic policy during the Asian financial crisis soured the relationship between the pair and Anwar, once a rising star, was fired abruptly in 1998.

He initiated the Reformasi protest movement, but was soon arrested under the Internal Security Act and later faced charges of corruption and sodomy.

Anwar was accused of sodomizing Azizan Abu Bakar, the driver of his wife and current Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

He was slapped with a six-year jail term for corruption in 1999 and received an additional nine years after being found guilty of sodomy the following year. Anwar has maintained that the charges were politically motivated.

In 2004, the sodomy conviction was overturned and Anwar eventually re-entered the political arena, this time on the side of the opposition.

Under his leadership, the opposition obtained an impressive result against BN in the 2008 election, denying the then-ruling coalition a supermajority for the first time since 1969.

 However, the triumph was short-lived and Anwar soon found himself facing fresh accusations of sodomy – this time allegedly with his political aide.

In 2012, Anwar was acquitted due to a lack of evidence, and went on to lead the opposition in 2013 general election where it won the popular vote for the first time – though it failed to topple the ruling coalition.

Two years later, during the watch of Prime Minister Najib Razak, the acquittal was overturned. The blow fell as Anwar was preparing for a 2014 by-election he seemed likely to win and his wife eventually contested the seat in his place. He began to serve his jail term in 2015 after the federal court upheld the ruling.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen in shock election defeat

The Maldivian election was watched closely as an indicator of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen’s hopes for a second presidential term were dashed on September 24 with opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih defeating him in the country’s elections. After a months-long sweeping crackdown on the opposition and a brief state of emergency imposed by the autocratic Yameen, the election on September 23 was preceded by a bitter campaign during which opposition leaders frequently accused the ruling regime of rights abuses and oppression. Several independent news websites reported that after the counting of a majority of the votes, Solih had won more than 58 per cent of the votes to 41 per cent for Yameen. Hours after the emergence of the informal results, Yameen conceded defeat to Solih during a televised news conference, saying: “Mal


By Lamat R Hasan
September 25, 2018

Politics

Abe wins 3rd term as president of ruling LDP

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was reelected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party for a third consecutive term on Thursday. “I will put all my strength and soul into fulfilling my duty,” Abe said after his victory. A total of 810 votes were cast in the LDP presidential poll, half by Diet lawmakers and half by rank-and-file party members. After securing the support of five LDP factions, led respectively by Hiroyuki Hosoda, Taro Aso, Fumio Kishida, Toshihiro Nikai and Nobuteru Ishihara, Abe won 329 of the 405 votes from LDP lawmakers, against 73 votes for Ishiba. Voting from rank-and-file party members closed on Wednesday. Abe won 224 votes of the 405 votes available from rank-and-file party members, while Ishiba won 181. At a press conference later on the same day, Abe said he intends to reshu


By The Japan News
September 21, 2018

Politics

A land with no smiles

The Thai middle class’ Faustian bargain with the military is hampering true democracy in the country. Almost ten years ago, I met a protester on the streets of Bangkok. It was a time of protest and political instability with the drama between the government and protesters spilling out onto the streets. To protect his identity against possible military reprisal, let us call him Nadech. Nadech will unlikely be recorded in history books, he was not a political leader, nor a despotic general or any other archetype of Thai history. He was a simple junk-store hawker, an occupation that involves going from house to house and sorting garbage to sell. His family had done well enough through grit and hard work to open a small convenience store in his home province. Nadech had taken to the streets in 2010 because he had believed the promises that exiled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had made and had seen, fi


By Cod Satrusayang
September 21, 2018

Politics

New airport construction adds to China’s influence in the Maldives

Maldives airport opened a new runway constructed by China this week, a sign of Beijing’s growing influence on the island nation. Maldives airport opened its newly developed Code F runway at the Velana International Airport on Tuesday after two years of construction by Chinese firms. According to Chinese state media, the new runway is a milestone project of the Belt and Road Initiative. The contract for the airport expansion, including the development of the fuel farm, a cargo terminal, and the new runway, was signed between China and the Maldives in 2014, Xinhua News Agency reported. Constructed by Beijing Urban Construction Group, a large international construction group based in China, the new runway is 3,400 meters long and 60 meters wide. It is the latest push by China to gain influence over the politically troubled nation. Earlier this year, Maldivian President Abdulla Y


By Cod Satrusayang
September 20, 2018

Politics

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif released from jail

Nawaz Sharif and his family were released from Adiala jail on Wednesday after the Islamabad High Court suspended their respective prison sentences in the Avenfield corruption case earlier in the day. PML-N Pr


By Dawn
September 20, 2018

Politics

El Salvador ups pressure on Taiwan relations

Prosecutors in El Salvador to investigate the alleged graft of some $10 million in funds donated by Taiwan. El Salvador announced it would sever ties with Taiwan and switch its allegiance to Beijing on 21th August. The loss of the Central American country reduces the number of Taiwan’s formal diplomatic allies to just 17. Now the current president of El Salvador, Sanchez Ceren, is accused that he won the election by relying on partial fund which was donated by Taiwan in 2014. Prosecutor Douglas Melendez said in a TV interview that Taiwan gave $38 million to El Salvador for various projects, but the fund was used in a partisan campaign by Mauricio Funes in election won by current President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the presidential candidate of the FMLN party in 2014. The FMLN party calling the accusations “baseless” and accusing Melendez of “attacking our candidate and o


By Asia News Network
September 20, 2018