KUALA LUMPUR: A group of civil rights activists calling itself Otai Reformasi gathered at the gates of the Istana Negara today to appeal for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to pardon opposition head Anwar Ibrahim who is currently imprisoned on a sodomy related conviction.
Saari Sungib, who led the group of 50-odd supporters, handed a memorandum to the palace’s representative Che Hilmy Che Musa requesting Sultan Muhammad V to intervene in the matter to allow Anwar, who is PKR de facto leader, to be released as soon as possible,
The group alleged that the formerdeputy prime minister has been jailed due to political motives under the rule of the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government.
The activists who were part of the “reformasi” (reformation) movement that began after Anwar was fired as deputy prime minister and from Umno in 1998, want him to be given a full pardon to enable him to participate in the upcoming 14th General Election (GE14) which is due by the middle of next year.
“Among our requests in the memorandum to the Agong is for Anwar to be freed because firstly he has championed the people’s interests and is a patriot who should not be treated in this manner,” Saari said.
“Secondly, his health has not be given due attention, and thirdly the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention under the United Nations (UN) has highlighted that his detention is politically motivated and puts the country in bad light,” he told reporters.
The PKR assemblyman for Hulu Klang said the nation’s reputation in international circles will improve with Anwar’s release.
He added that the group will tour the country with other NGOs in the effort to raise awareness and garner support to have Anwar freed.
Also present was DAP’s Ronnie Liu, Amanah Youth chief Faiz Fadzil, PKR’s Seri Setia assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and PKR’s Ijok assemblyman Idris Ahmad.
On March 16, 2015, the Pardons Board had dismissed a clemency petition filed by Anwar’s family for a royal pardon from the then Agong, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah.
The family then filed the legal challenge against the dismissal on June 24. This resulted in the Court of Appeal ruling that they had the right to have the matter heard before the Federal Court to determine whether the Pardons Board’s decision-making process could be subjected to judicial scrutiny.
In December last year Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is PKR president, was reported to have said that he may receive a royal pardon from Sultan Muhammad who was proclaimed as the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong on December 13, if the Federal Court decision does not favour him.
A few lawyers interviewed by FMT on December 15 expressed the opinion that one of the ways for Anwar to be active again in electoral politics is to have a full royal pardon.
Anwar, 69, is serving a five-year jail term after losing his appeal at the Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015, to set aside his conviction on a charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008.