Opposition plans to appoint former judges to exonerate Anwar if it wins election

Opposition plans to appoint former judges to exonerate Anwar if it wins election

Anwar Mahathir meet
Mahathir Mohamad meets Anwar Ibrahim after 18 years in 2017. (Photo: Facebook/Parti Keadilan Rakyat)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian opposition plans to fill the royal pardons board with ex-judges who will exonerate their incarcerated leader, Anwar Ibrahim if they form a government.

This would pave the way for him to take over as prime minister from Dr Mahathir Mohamad - who would take the seat if the opposition wins - within six months.

"Our pardons board will be filled with ex-judges so they can look into the matter and prove that Anwar is innocent," said his wife and the opposition's deputy prime minister candidate, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in an interview with Channel NewsAsia.

"Once we are elected, the government has a say in choosing and appointing members to the pardons board.

"I think and I believe the King (who heads the board) will be amenable to listen to the pardons board and this advice."

Anwar is currently serving out a jail sentence for a sodomy conviction he claims is politically motivated. He is due out of prison in June. 

However, Malaysian law forbids convicts from holding public office for five years upon their release. 

Having exhausted most legal avenues to get his conviction overturned, a royal pardon may be Anwar's only chance to serve in government should the opposition win polls that must be held by August. 

A previous bid for a royal pardon was rejected. However, the opposition points out that Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Mansor from the ruling coalition was on the board.

If Anwar succeeds in getting a pardon under a new Pakatan Harapan government, Dr Wan Azizah may resign so he can contest her seat. 

If he then wins that by-election, Anwar will take over as prime minister from 92-year-old Dr Mahathir - the man who once infamously sacked him as deputy prime minister, sparking the opposition movement Malaysia knows today.

"Of course I have heard it said about Mahathir, are you sure that Tun is going to hand over power? Part of it is BN (Barisan Nasional) propaganda from BN saying he is not going to let go," says Dr Wan Azizah.

"But you see, Dr Mahathir has actually sacked a few of his deputies before when he was in power ... but please remember, he actually resigned when he was prime minister."

Dr Mahathir is Malaysia's longest serving prime minister, helming the Barisan Nasional government for 22 years between 1981 to 2003. In 2016, he quit his former party, UMNO, citing disillusionment with Prime Minister Najib Razak's leadership.

His new party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, has now joined forces with Anwar's People's Justice Party (PKR) as well as the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara (PAN) to form a new opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan.

Dr Mahathir had told Channel NewsAsia in an interview last June that he had no desire to become prime minister but would if he had to.

"I voluntarily resigned (the last time), no one forced me to resign. In fact people even cried because I resigned. So it's not a case of being pushed out," he said.

"I don't want to be prime minister for too long and I don't want to come back as prime minister ... But if circumstances force me to, I would be very selfish not to spend the last years of my life serving the people. "

Source: CNA/nc