Anwar Ibrahim says he wants to 'backbench' for now

Anwar Ibrahim says he wants to 'backbench' for now

Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim gestures during an interview at his house in Kuala Lumpur on May 17, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

PETALING JAYA: Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim on Wednesday (Jun 6) refuted speculation that he will be taking over the Pandan parliamentary seat, which is being held by his wife PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also Malaysia's deputy prime minister.

Anwar, who is also Pakatan Harapan's de facto leader, said at this juncture, it was impractical for him to do so as Wan Azizah, the new holder of the second-highest position in the government's administration, would have to step down early in order to give way.

In addition, he said that after being released from prison recently, he was more comfortable being a "backbencher".

"I am free. I want to go around first, I have commitments, teaching and lectures, many in several universities, both domestic and abroad.

"In fact, I have not had the experience of being a regular MP. Prior to this, I have held several ministerial posts and been opposition leader, so now I want to be backbencher," he told reporters after holding a briefing for PKR elected representatives in Petaling Jaya. 

At the event, 48 out of 50 PKR parliamentarians and 51 of 67 PKR state assemblymen were present.

This was Anwar's first official meeting with all PKR elected representatives after his release from prison following a full pardon from Malaysia's king, Sultan Muhammad V.

Social media speculation claimed that Wan Azizah would resign as Pandan member of parliament to allow a by-election to enable Anwar to contest.

Commenting further, Anwar also confirmed that he would not contest as a member of parliament during the period before the start of the first session of parliament on Jul 16.

"I have programmes in London and Turkey and after that I will be back, going round to the states I have not yet visited.

"After completing the programmes in the Arabian countries and United States, we will be discussing again, which will take more than two months, the decision to contest in which seat," he said.

Asked on the statement by former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief A Kadir Jasin, who disputed the rights and privileges of Malaysia's king, Anwar said it was improper for a person to exercise his right and freedom to speak against the institution of the Malay rulers with disputable facts.

"I do not deny the right of a person to write and speak, but to attack and insult the rulers with disputed facts and with intent to cause problems in the country is not appropriate," he said.

Kadir had said earlier that an average of RM16 million (US$4 million) per month was spent, among others, on accommodation, residential, personal belongings, aircraft, transport, clothing, gifts and souvenirs, overseas visits for the king and salaries of palace staff.

Source: Bernama/hs