Malaysia's Anwar walks free after royal pardon, meets PM

Malaysia's Anwar walks free after royal pardon, meets PM

Jailed for six years, Anwar says he was kept in solitary confinement, singing 1960s pop tunes to stay sane and reading anything he could get, including the Quran, the Bible and Shakespeare.

The 92-year-old has promised to hand over power after two years to Anwar, who is able to rejoin politics effective immediately due to the royal pardon.

Anwar, 70, smiled and waved to supporters as he walked out of hospital, dressed in a black suit and tie and his hair neatly swept back.

The volatile relationship between Mahathir and Anwar has dominated Malaysia's political landscape for over three decades and is central to the future of the alliance.

Jack Seng, another supporter wearing a shirt with an image of Anwar behind bars, said he thought Mahathir and Anwar would resolve any tension between them.

Anwar was due to walk free on June 8, but the fast-tracking of his release - via an expected full royal pardon from Malaysia's King Muhammad V of Kelantan, due Wednesday - will allow him to re-enter politics nearly immediately, rather than waiting the five years required by the constitution.

Anwar will travel directly to the palace after his release.

Anwar has been in hospital for some months, for surgery on a shoulder.

"Going to jail I consider a sacrifice that I make for the people of this country", he said at the time.

Mr Mahathir sacked Mr Anwar as his deputy in 1998 amid a dispute over the management of the Asian financial crisis. "I've told Tun Mahathir, I don't need to serve in the cabinet for now", he said, using an honorofic for the prime minister.

When Mahathir was prime minister in the 1990s, Anwar was his deputy and clear heir-apparent.

Dr Mahathir said the focus on corruption was important especially 1MDB as well as money that had been misappropriated by the previous government. He was later arrested and jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption.

He was freed in 2004, but then jailed again for five-years in 2015 for sodomy, in what his supporters considered an attempt by Najib to end his political career.

Anwar is in the People's Justice Party, while Mahathir is in the Malaysian United Indigenous Party, but they are part of the same coalition, Pakatan Harapan (meaning "Pact of Hope").

On whether Najib was given immunity, Dr Mahathir said: "We will follow the rule of law and the law applies to everyone irrespective of being a Prime Minister".

In his book "A Doctor in the House", published in 2011, Mahathir recalled how he transformed his country from an agricultural backwater into an industrial powerhouse that became the 17thlargest trading nation in the world.

Earlier, state news agency Bernama and other media reported that a former official of the anti-graft agency, MACC, had lodged a report against Najib on suspicion of blocking probes in cases involving 1MDB and a government pension fund.

But observers had failed to gauge the depth of disgust with former leader Najib Razak, who stands accused of presiding over the plundering of a state investment fund he established.

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