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Malaysia's jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim pardoned

16 May 2018

For many Malaysians, it has been surreal to see Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah sharing the same stage with Tun Dr Mahathir, the man who first put her husband in jail back in 1998, in what was seen as a politically-motivated move.

She said during the time when Dr Mahathir was the Prime Minister, and Anwar, his deputy, Malaysia was recognised by the world as "Asian Tiger".

Malaysia jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim waves to supporters as he leave a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

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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.

In 2015, Anwar was sentenced to five years' jail after the Federal Court upheld his guilty verdict.

The 92-year-old former autocrat Mahathir had headed the now-ousted Barisan Nasional regime for 22 years until 2003 but came out of retirement to lead a disparate opposition to an unexpected election victory.

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"Right now, we want the government helmed by (Prime Minister) Dr Mahathir Mohamad to function smoothly", she said to reporters after visiting Anwar at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital on Tuesday (May 15). Party spokesman Fahmi Fadzil says he has been pardoned by the king.

Dr Wan Azizah was asked to comment on a foreign media report quoting Council of Eminent Persons chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin that it would be foolish to make Anwar prime minister as soon as he returned to Parliament.

"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. It was the second time he had been convicted of a sodomy offense. Wearing a white shirt printed with a photograph of Anwar and the words "March 2 Freedom", he said he nevertheless believed Anwar and Mahathir could work together and that the alliance's prospects were good. But Anwar needs to win a by-election to become a parliamentary member first.

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Malaysia's jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim pardoned