Anwar Ibrahim Is Free!

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Malaysia on the verge of a new “golden era” and working with Dr Mahathir was crucial to topple BN, says Anwar.

Dressed in a full suit and maroon tie and with his hair neatly swept back, PKR’s de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim walked out of Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital at 11.30am on Tuesday (May 16) a free man.

After waving to a huge media turnout, he got into a vehicle to head for Istana Negara. His wife and PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali will be accompanying Anwar to meet the king at noon.

“We will be expressing our gratitude to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for granting the royal pardon,” Azmin said.

PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil had earlier announced that Anwar would briefly address the media outside the rehabilitation centre upon his release but the sheer number of supporters and media made it impossible for Anwar to even say a few words.

Lai Seng Sin/Reuters

He is now scheduled to have a press conference at his home in Segambut at 4.00 pm.

He will also perform terawih prayers at his home before attending the rally at Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya, tonight.

Azneal Ishak/Malay Mail

Among the first people to greet Anwar at the palace was Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir arrived at the palace for the Royal Pardons Board meeting.

In his first interview on the eve of his freedom, Anwar told The Sydney Morning Herald that Malaysia is on the verge of a new “golden era” but he cautioned Malaysians that “one election does not a democracy make”.

He reminded the rakyat of the deep, entrenched and systemic corruption that has infected the country during the 61-year rule of recently-ousted Barisan Nasional.

“The road ahead will challenge the best among us to deliver what we promised to the people,” he was quoted saying.

According to the Australian daily, Anwar said an urgent task was “respect for all Malaysians” – a reference to addressing racism embedded in the country’s laws – “independence of the judiciary, rule of law, free media and proper separation of powers”.

He expressed confidence that he would be able to work with Dr Mahathir – his ally turned foe turned ally – who led the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition to victory.

He said that after working with Mahathir for many years, “I understand that he cares deeply about Malaysia and the people of Malaysia…a new partnership was essential to overcome the deeply entrenched, corrupt system that was presiding over Malaysia”.

“Our litmus test has always been supporting the reform agenda.

“So long as there is sincere commitment to these principles, we have always welcomed new supporters. The animosity which preoccupies some observers is not an issue for me,” Anwar was quoted as saying.