KUALA LUMPUR: Anwar Ibrahim has hailed a “new dawn” for Malaysia in his first news conference following his release from prison on Wednesday (May 16).
The 70-year-old walked free from Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital after being granted a full royal pardon from Malaysia’s king, Sultan Muhammad V.
Speaking to the assembled media outside his home after his audience with the king, Anwar expressed his gratitude to all who fought for his freedom.
“We asked for a pardon not to absolve us from wrongdoing, but because there was an abuse of power, to which the king agreed – and I’ve been cleared of all charges,” he said, as he spoke alongside his wife, the new deputy prime minister-designate Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
"We appealed because there was a miscarriage of justice. We appealed because there was a travesty of justice. I don’t need to sign any document, because all my convictions have been erased.”
Anwar said it was a new dawn from Malaysians with the election of the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
“I must thank the people of Malaysia ... the entire spectrum of Malaysians, regardless of race or religion. The people demand change,” he said. “It is our duty to honour this mandate given to PH.
Asked about the timeline of him taking over from Dr Mahathir as prime minister, he said he would give him and Dr Wan Azizah all the support necessary to ensure that the agenda for reform be effectively carried out.
Anwar also said he harboured no malice against Dr Mahathir, despite the latter sacking him in 1998, prior to his conviction for sodomy and corruption. "I have no malice against him. We have buried the hatchet and he now fully supports the reform agenda," he said.
Dr Mahathir has said he expects to run the government for up to two years during a transition period but has signalled the reins would be turned over to Anwar, who lost his parliament seat with his criminal conviction.
The former ruling Barisan Nasional coalition was toppled in part because of deep national disgust with former prime minister Najib Razak, who stands accused of presiding over the plundering of 1MDB, a state investment fund he established.
Anwar said he bore no ill-will against Najib as well, but added that latter must answer to the charge of "injustice" to the people.
Dr Mahathir has barred Najib from leaving the country pending investigations.