Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's reformist icon Anwar Ibrahim was freed from custody on Wednesday after receiving a royal pardon, transforming a political prisoner into a prime minister-in-waiting following his alliance's stunning election victory.
Anwar emerged from the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital on Wednesday after Malaysia's Pardon Board, which included the current King, made a decision to overturn the 2015 conviction, which is widely accepted to be politically motivated.
Smiling and looking spry in a dark suit and tie, the 70-year-old gave a thumbs-up to a crowd of journalists before being whisked away by auto for an audience with the country's king.
"They want to end Anwar's political career, but they underestimated the wrath of the people", Anwar said at the time.
Yesterday, Istana Negara Datuk Pengelola Bijaya Diraja Datuk Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V had consented that all procedures regarding the Pardons Board proceedings on Anwar be finalised tomorrow.
He said that Anwar, a former enemy turned ally, may be just a member of parliament for a while. He and the fund have denied wrongdoing. Mahathir has ordered him barred from leaving the country.
Nurul Izzah, Anwar's daughter, said her father's release was a gift ahead of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan which begins on Thursday in Malaysia.
"After the latest developments in Malaysia the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) is very much interested in renewing dialogue with the competent authorities in Malaysia".
"The joy is similar to when South Africans celebrated with jubilation after Nelson Mandela was freed".
"Anwar will perform terawih prayers at his home before attending the rally at Padang Timur tonight", he told reporters.
"He did good (before) and can do good for the whole of Malaysia", he said. I think that assumption that I was a dictator is completely without any basis. "Najib wasted a lot of Malaysia's money". "There are many faults committed by the previous government, but we can not do everything in one day, so you have to be patient".
But in 2015, Anwar was imprisoned again after new allegations of sodomizing an aide that he and his supporters said were a government plot to crush the opposition. "There will be no special powers given except as are given to ministers or deputy ministers or deputy prime ministers", Mahathir said.
But the two men had a spectacular falling-out that gripped the country.
Anwar served as Dr Mahathir's deputy and finance minister before being removed from his post and incarcerated on sodomy and corruption charges, which human rights groups and foreign governments criticised as being politically motivated.
Yet rather than give up, Anwar worked from his prison cell to forge a new opposition alliance by ending the two-decade feud with Mahathir - a gamble that paid off when the alliance won the 9 May polls.