Malaysia: Opposition icon Anwar gets royal pardon, released from prison


"The Pardons Board is scheduled to sit at 11am tomorrow (Wednesday) and we won't know how long it will take before he is set free", she said to The Star.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed (R) and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim offer prayers at the Malaysian 1998 Budget report in Parliament in Kuala Lumpur, October 17, 1998.

Anwar expressed confidence that he would be able to work with the 92-year-old former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad - his ally turned foe turned ally - who led the opposition Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition to victory.

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.

Mr Anwar, 70, was released from custody at Cheras Rehabilitation Centre in Kuala Lumpur, where he was recovering from a shoulder injury.

Tun Daim Zainuddin, who heads the Council of Elders, told The Straits Times of Singapore that it would be foolish to install PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister now.

Officials in Anwar's political party said he was headed to an audience with Malaysia's king and was expected to address the public in the afternoon followed by a political rally in the evening. Without the pardon, Anwar would have been banned from politics for five years due to having a criminal record.

"My children were quite young during the earlier period of incarceration [from 1999 to 2003] and that was a hard period for them and [his wife, new deputy prime minister Wan] Azizah", he said.

Anwar said he never lost hope, even though he had been imprisoned over two sodomy charges for a total for 11 years.

Once seen as a potential future leader, he had been jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption after falling out with the government. But Anwar needs to win a by-election to become a parliamentary member first.

Mahathir said in the past he will stand aside for Anwar as soon as he is elected as an MP, but the agreement appears to have shifted.