Close to 10,000 greet Anwar at rally celebrating his release

People surround Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s car as he (bottom, right) arrives for Himpunan Merdeka Rakyat in Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya May 16, 2018. — Bernama pic
People surround Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s car as he (bottom, right) arrives for Himpunan Merdeka Rakyat in Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya May 16, 2018. — Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA, May 16 — Nearly 10,000 Malaysians turned up at Padang Timur here tonight to celebrate the release of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

A sea of PKR flags filled the field, less than 12 hours after Anwar, 70, was granted a full royal pardon and released from his sodomy conviction.

Anwar, who had been in prison since February 2015, addressed his supporters at 11pm.

He arrived at the field at around 9.30pm accompanied by his wife, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and a host of other Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders who all took turns to speak on stage.

In his highly anticipated speech, Anwar reiterated his support for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and said he declined an offer of a Cabinet post in the latter’s administration.

“He said, ‘How? ‘Do you want to be in my Cabinet?’ I said I don’t need that, I’m fully behind his leadership,” he said.

PH in their campaign promised to make Anwar the next PM of the country, with Dr Mahathir stepping down at an indeterminate point in the future.

Thousands attend Himpunan Merdeka Rakyat in Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya May 16, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Thousands attend Himpunan Merdeka Rakyat in Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya May 16, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Anwar gave no indication of his plans to return to politics immediately, saying he wished to rest with his family, tour the country and also go abroad to honour invitations by several world leaders.

Among others, he said longtime ally Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had asked him to visit soon.

He was quick to remind his PH colleagues, who are now in power, not to become “arrogant”.

“What we don’t want is an Umno 2.0. When they don’t perform, we will kick them out,” he said.

“Remember all those who started this fight for reform without any positions or rewards,” he added, warning the new government members not to squabble over positions.

Anwar received a royal pardon for his second sodomy conviction today and was released immediately from his five-year prison sentence.

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