Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Anwar Ibrahim declares new dawn for Malaysia after release

Anwar Ibrahim declares new dawn for Malaysia after release

Anwar was officially pardoned by the Yang Dipertuan Agong today and has been released from a five-year jail term for a sodomy conviction, alleged to be politically motivated during former prime minister Najib's administration.

To ecstatic cries of "Reformasi" (Reform) - Anwar's ralling cry - he vowed to hundreds of journalists, supporters and prison guards to support the new government's efforts to clean up the country. His friend, Mohammed Asseri, 25, told Arab News that "during Najib's era, Malaysia was well-known in the media with stories about 1MDB". Anwar said he was grateful to Malaysians "regardless of race and religion, who stood by the principles of democracy and freedom".

Supporters gathered on Thursday at the hospital from where Anwar walked free just a week after his alliance scored a shock victory in a general election.

Anwar teamed up with Mahathir, his ally-turned-foe-turned-ally, to oust Najib.

"Many have asked me how it is that our reform movement has now joined forces with the very same former dictator, Mahathir Mohamad, who sacked my father in 1998 and saw him arrested, brutalized and incarcerated", Anwar's daughter Nurul Izzah, wrote in an article for the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday.

King Muhammad V pardoned Anwar after Mahathir said Friday the royal palace would undo homosexual sodomy charges against the imprisoned leader of People's Justice Party (PKR).

Mahathir, who was once Najib's mentor and ally and who is back in power after a prior stint as premier from 1981 to 2003, accused him repeatedly on the campaign trail of being a "thief" over alleged graft at 1MDB.

Anwar said his history with Mahathir was water under the bridge, as they shared the same goals of reforming the government and cleaning up a massive corruption scandal involving former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.

The finance ministry said in a statement Wednesday that a 6 per cent goods and services tax introduced by Najib in 2016 to increase government revenues will be abolished June 1.

"If Najib is arrested tonight, I want to make sure I am here to see it", one onlooker, Vickenesan Subramaniam, had said earlier in the evening after riding his motorcycle to the scene.

Singapore has also taken "swift action" against financial institutions and individuals who have broken laws within the country's jurisdiction in connection with 1MDB-related fund flows, they said. "I need to take time to be with (my) family and to travel around the country (and) overseas", he said.

Mahathir has not yet moved into the prime minister's office or residence.

Anwar has cast a long shadow over Malaysian politics for decades.

Speaking about Mr Mahathir's behaviour during his first prime ministership, Ibrahim Suffian, executive director of the Merdeka Center, an independent survey group, said: "Many of his allies suffered during his time as prime minister". At one point, prosecutors produced a mattress that they said was stained with semen, accusing Anwar of having sex with two male aides.

Mahathir said the government will seek to retrieve billions of dollars laundered from 1MDB to repay government debts that have piled up over the years.

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