From prison to palace: a recap of Anwar’s first day as a free man after being granted a full royal pardon

Anwar Ibrahim speaks to reporters at a press conference held at his home.
The Straits Times

Anwar Ibrahim is not rushing back into politics.

The freed Malaysian leader-in-waiting told reporters that at a press conference held at his home after he was released from jail earlier on Wednesday (May 16) morning at 11.30am.

He was sentenced to jail for five years after being found guilty of sodomy in 2015 by the Federal Court and was due for release on June 8 this year for good behaviour before being granted a full royal pardon from the King which helps him avoid a five-year ban on political activity.

As Anwar emerged from Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital, where he was receiving treatment for a shoulder injury, he received a roaring reception from his supporters who had gathered outside to receive him.

Anwar was immediately whisked off to Istana Negara where he was granted an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V at noon. The 70-year-old was greeted by the new Malaysian prime minster and former political-enemy-turned-ally Mahathir Mohamad upon arrival at the palace, and was accompanied by Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali and deputy prime minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also Anwar’s wife.

From there, Anwar left for his home in Segambut, Kuala Lumpur where he expressed his gratitude to the King for pardoning him and to the prime minister for assisting with the process of his release.

He added a “new dawn” has come for Malaysia and its people, regardless of race; and said he has forgiven former prime minster Najib Razak though the latter must be prepared to answer for his “crimes against the people”.

Anwar told reporters he needed “time and space” to recuperate and be with his family, and shared that he has been booked for speaking engagements overseas. As such, he will not be rushing back into politics and will support the new government as a regular citizen instead.

“I don’t need to serve in the Cabinet for now,” he said.