Anwar a backbench MP later, but not Pandan

PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim told the party’s elected representatives to give Dr Mahathir Mohamad full support.

PETALING JAYA: Anwar Ibrahim will be a Dewan Rakyat backbencher – “I’ve never been one before” – but not as MP for Pandan, and not for another two months at least, he said today.

The new Parliament will be called into session next month, with the Dewan Rakyat scheduled to meet on July 16 to elect a Speaker. Parliamentary business begins the next day.

Anwar, who was MP for Permatang Pauh for several terms, was released from prison last month and received a royal pardon, allowing him to become active in politics.

He said his re-entry would only be discussed in two months’ time, as he has commitments here and abroad, such as lectures and meetings with world leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an old friend.

Anwar ruled out contesting in Pandan, where his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was elected last month. Their daughter Nurul Izzah was elected in the family seat, Permatang Pauh.

“Azizah offered, but it’s not practical because she would have to resign as DPM and I don’t want a Cabinet position now,” Anwar said. His wife is deputy prime minister and minister for women’s affairs in Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government.

Anwar said he would rather return to Parliament as a government backbencher. “I have never been a backbencher before,” he quipped. (Anwar first became MP for Permatang Pauh in 1982 and was appointed a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, a Cabinet portfolio.)

Earlier today, Anwar had a meeting with about 100 PKR members who won parliamentary and state seats in the general election last month. Attendance was compulsory.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution said Anwar had reminded them to give their full backing to the new government.

“Anwar wants PKR elected representatives to give their trust and support to Mahathir because the weight Mahathir carries is heavy. Anwar said that giving Mahathir full support will allow the PM to carry out his duties without worrying about anything else,” Saifuddin said.

Anwar also reminded the elected representatives to translate the ideals of “reformasi” through their duties as MPs or assemblymen.

Two senior party members were absent from the meeting: PKR deputy president Azmin Ali is overseas on umrah, and PKR Wanita leader Zuraida Kamaruddin is attending a conference in Europe as minister for housing and local government.

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