KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be released from detention at about 1pm today following a royal pardon.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who announced this, said the PKR leader would have to contest a parliamentary seat after being pardoned and could then possibly be appointed to the Cabinet.
Speaking at a Wall Street Journal event in Tokyo yesterday via video-conferencing, he said Anwar’s appointment to the Cabinet has not been decided.
Dr Mahathir said he would continue to serve as Prime Minister for “maybe one or two years” before stepping down to make way for Anwar.
“In the initial stages, maybe lasting one or two years, I will have to be the Prime Minister and I will have to run the country.
“The reason why the public supported us is because they have faith in the leadership of (what was then) the Opposition to resolve some of the problems,” Dr Mahathir said.
Asked on the role that Anwar will have before he becomes Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir said: “We are a coalition of four parties and all four will have equal strength and equal influence in the coalition.
“He is leader of one of the coalition parties so I expect him to play the same role as the leaders of the other three parties.”
Anwar was sentenced to five years’ jail by the Court of Appeal in 2014 after he was found guilty of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
Anwar had earlier been acquitted of the offence by the Kuala Lumpur High Court in 2012.
In 2015, the Federal Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s ruling.
Under Article 42(1) of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has the power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites for offences committed in Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.
The Pardons Board is meeting today to discuss Anwar’s release.
While the meeting was originally thought to be yesterday, PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil said it has now been changed to today.
Bernama reported that Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V hoped that all procedures relating to the proceedings of the Pardons Board Committee for a royal pardon for Anwar would be finalised today.
It quoted Istana Negara Datuk Pengkalan Bijaya Diraja Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz as saying in a statement on Tuesday night that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was pleased and satisfied with all procedures related to the proceedings of the Pardons Board Committee on the matter.
Anwar had earlier been scheduled for early release from imprisonment next month and is currently recovering from surgery at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital.