Anwar to be released directly from hospital without returning to prison

Anwar to be released directly from hospital without returning to prison

File photo Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim
File photo of Anwar Ibrahim during a press conference at his party head office in Petaling Jaya. (Photo: AFP / GOH Chai Hin)

KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim is expected to walk free from Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital on Wednesday (May 16) without being taken back to Sungai Buloh Prison.

First, the Pardons Board will meet at 11am to discuss the application for his release and full pardon, said PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution.

“So, we expect (the release) will be at noon tomorrow before a gathering in the afternoon in Petaling Jaya,” he told reporters after visiting Anwar at the hospital on Tuesday.

According to a statement released by the palace on Monday, the king, Sultan Muhammad V, had consented to all procedures related to the proceedings of the Pardons Board in finalising Anwar's release. 

Anwar began serving a five-year jail sentence in February 2015 after the Malaysian federal court upheld his conviction and sentence on a charge of having sodomised a former personal aide.

He was jailed in Sungai Buloh Prison, and was scheduled to be freed on Jun 8.

"I think he's deeply exhilarated. It's been so long that we've been craving not just freedom but justice," said Anwar's daughter Nurul Izzah after visiting her father in hospital. 

"Please remember we submitted a petition for a pardon based on a miscarriage of justice so the pardon comes to completely validate his innocence. To that end I think it's a wonderful day for us," she added.

On the prospect of having her father home for Ramadan which starts on Thursday, she said: "This is one of the sweetest gifts we can have as a family."

When asked what happens if the Pardons Board decides against releasing Anwar, PKR's Saifuddin said: "I am optimistic, I don't want to think of anything else. Anything is possible. But I think it's better we take a positive attitude because an open commitment has been made by the prime minister as well as the palace so let's pray and hope for the best."

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said in his first first media address after being elected that he would honour his agreement to get Anwar a full royal pardon. He will also step aside for Anwar after he is elected as an MP.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Anwar's wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail - who has been named the new deputy prime minister - said the appointment of her husband as Malaysia's new prime minister will not be made in haste.

She added that her husband - who has been recuperating from surgery - was recovering.

Additional reporting by Sumisha Naidu

Source: CNA/Bernama/nc/(gs)