PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as a member of parliament on Monday (Oct 15), but said he would not be joining Malaysia's Cabinet for the time being.
Addressing the media, Anwar said: "My priority would be to assist the government by implementing part of our manifesto that is parliamentary reform. Our parliament in the past has been considered a rubber stamp. MPs would debate but generally (whatever raised by the government) would be endorsed.
"I’m happy (to be back). I’ve been deprived of my rights from time to time ... Every time I was sent to prison I was dismissed, I had no avenue to appeal to a just court or to be adjudicated fairly but now I feel vindicated in a sense."
He added that he wants parliament to be more effective through the formation of select committees or "various other discussions" prior to debates and the tabling of laws.
The swearing in follows his victory on Saturday in the Port Dickson by-election, where the president of Malaysia’s largest ruling party bagged 31,016 votes out of a possible 43,489.
Although turnout dipped drastically from 82.8 per cent at the May general election to 58.25 per cent, it was still a better showing than three previous by-elections elsewhere in Malaysia, which all attracted less than 50 per cent of voters.
The parliamentary seat was vacated by Danyal Balagopal Abdullah to make way for Anwar to become the country’s eighth prime minister.
On his role in the government and regarding any timeline to take over as prime minister, Anwar said: "I’ve told Dr M I will only support and give my contribution through parliamentary reform ... Let him have the space, the latitude to continue unaffected by restraints of time or pressure.”
Anwar, 71, added that he stood by his earlier decision to not have any Cabinet position.
"I'm happy with that position," he said.
The last time Anwar became an MP was in 2013 after the 13th general election when he won the Permatang Pauh seat. He had to give up the seat after the Federal Court dismissed in February 2015 his appeal against a five-year jail sentence for sodomy.
Anwar was given a royal pardon on May 16 this year, seven days after the Pakatan Harapan coalition won the 14th general election.
The second meeting of the first term of the 14th parliament will see the tabling of the 2019 Budget, the first national budget prepared by the Pakatan Harapan government after winning the May 9 general election.