KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he will have no objection to jailed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becoming prime minister if the latter was able to secure a royal pardon which frees him to contest in elections once more.
The former prime minister-turned-Barisan Nasional critic had, as recently as May, refused to endorse his former protégé-turned-PKR leader-turned-ally as the Pakatan Harapan Opposition pact’s prime ministerial candidate, but appears to have had a change of heart in a recent interview with UK daily The Guardian.
“In the case of Anwar, we can make a case that he was unfairly treated. The decision of the court was obviously influenced by the government and I think the incoming government would be able to persuade the King to give a full pardon for Anwar.
“In which case he would be able to participate in politics and become PM. I can have no objection to that,” Dr Mahathir, who will turn 92 next Monday, was quoted as saying.
Dr Mahathir who is now chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia has offered to be an interim prime minister for the Pakatan Harapan pact if it wins the next general elections.
Anwar, who will turn 70 on August 10, is currently serving the last 10 months of his five-year jail term for sodomy, a sentence upheld by the Federal Court in February 2014.
His allies and supporters believe the conviction to have been politically-motivated and have been campaigning for his freedom.
However, Malaysian law restricts a person from actively participating in political activities for five years after the end of their sentence.
This could be a hurdle to Anwar’s path to becoming prime minister right away, even after his release from prison next year.
The 14th general elections must be called by mid-2018, but is highly anticipated will be held before next June.