Malaysia icon Anwar Ibrahim freed, given royal pardon

Asked whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Najib, Mahathir said if the evidence was sufficient, action could be taken.

Speaking at his first press conference at his residence in Segambut, here, Anwar said he had expressed his full support for Dr Mahathir’s leadership to enable the newly-elected prime minister deliver the agenda and implement necessary reforms effectively. It was the second time the founder and de facto leader of the People’s Justice Party (PKR) had served time for the crime, after being jailed in 1999 by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar has been in hospital for some months, for surgery on a shoulder.

Wearing a suit, he touched his heart before waving at a scrum of reporters and photographers and getting into a waiting auto alongside his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is deputy prime minister and also president of the People’s Justice Party, or PKR.

The story of the relationship between Mr Mahathir and Mr Anwar is one of extraordinary twists and turns. The two had a falling out over the handling of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, resulting in Anwar being sacked as deputy prime minister.

Political rivals used allegations of homosexuality to attempt to discredit and imprison Anwar. Both times, he and his supporters have said the charges were politically motivated.

Anwar’s release is a moment to celebrate for a group, which labored in opposition for decades and faced constant pressure from those in office-he’s been jailed twice on sodomy convictions and also for abuse of power.

Anwar Ibrahim’s repeated imprisonments occurred amid a wider crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful political dissent in Malaysia.

“I have forgiven him”, Anwar said. “Why should I harbour any malice towards him?”

Shouts of “Reformasi!” (Reform) — Anwar’s rallying cry — rang out as he arrived at his sprawling family compound in a city suburb.

Malaysia bans convicts from political activities for five years after their sentence ends.

Mahathir has said he expects to run the government for one to two years but has signaled that the reins would be turned over to Anwar eventually.

According to him, he does not want an issue of him being incarcerated to be an issue made against Najib.

“We need to move forward”.

Jack Seng, another supporter wearing a shirt with an image of Anwar behind bars, said he thought Mahathir and Anwar would resolve any tension between them.

Previously, the charismatic Anwar headed various ministries under Mahathir’s tutelage in the 1990s, earning praise as a reformer.

He said it was Mahathir’s prerogative to form the cabinet, but noted he had given assurances that he will consult party leaders.

Analysts believe Mr Anwar will fight a byelection to return as an MP before joining the government and assuming the job he first thought was within his grasp 20 years ago.

Mahathir, 92, said an initial investigation showed the scale of wrongdoing by Najib’s administration was more serious than expected.

Briefing by the Auditor-General and Police has seen more discrepancies and mistakes cropping up in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Several people have also been prevented from leaving the country, including Mr Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor.

“By declassifying the file, Dr Mahathir is showing Malaysia and the world that he means business and is very serious in getting to the bottom of 1MDB”, says Ahmad Martadha Mohamed, an associate professor at Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Daim Zainuddin says Dr Mahathir Mohamad succeeded where the opposition failed for many years