Anwar Ibrahim pardoned as Mahathir prepares new government

Anwar Ibrahim pardoned as Mahathir prepares new government


Isabelle Meere, Content Producer

Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as Malaysia’s seventh Prime Minister on Thursday evening, after a short delay by the King, Sultan Muhammad V. Although Mahathir is the current Prime Minister, he has been picked by the Pakatan Harapan alliance on the understanding that he will hand over the premiership to Anwar Ibrahim after he is released from prison, reports the Straits Times.

Anwar served as Deputy Prime Minister under Mahathir from 1993–1998 until he was removed from his post and jailed by Mahathir. A feud between the two politicians shaped much of Malaysia’s political landscape in the years following, and sparked the rise of the opposition movement, Reformasi, in 1998. In 2016 Mahathir abandoned his own party and joined Anwar’s opposition alliance in order to defeat then-PM Najib Razak.

The King has granted Anwar a full pardon, and he will be released from prison immediately. Anwar will also be allowed to participate in politics straight away, despite normal practice dictating that an individual cannot do so until five years after their release. At a press conference on Thursday Mahathir announced that Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Isamil, would be named deputy prime minister in his cabinet, reported Reuters.

Mahathir’s cabinet will be chosen from the four parties that make up the Pakatan Harapan Alliance: the Democratic Action Party, People’s Justice Party, National Trust Party and Malaysian United Indigenous Party. Mahathir has named 10 priority cabinet positions that he will announce tomorrow, including finance, foreign affairs, defence and home affairs, but it is not clear yet whether Anwar will be named as part of the new cabinet. As quoted by the Straits Times, Mahathir promised “some heads will roll”, also saying that heads of departments who aided and abetted the former Prime Minister will be removed from their positions.