UPDATES TO CHANGE HEADLINES
By P Prem Kumar
KUALA LUMPUR (AA) – Malaysia’s imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim failed in a bid to challenge a decision by the country’s pardon board Friday, which would have allowed him to petition for a royal pardon.
High Court Judge Nor Bee Ariffin dismissed Ibrahim’s request for High Court leave to challenge the board’s dismissal of a petition to pardon him of a sodomy conviction.
The decision was made in chambers after lengthy submissions from both public prosecutor and Ibrahim’s lawyers. Ibrahim supporters had flocked to the Kuala Lumpur High Court Complex before the decision was made.
Ibrahim, who was present at the court, declined to comment on the outcome but merely nodded when asked whether he would appeal on the decision.
His lawyer, N Surendran, confirmed to reporters after the proceedings that the family would, however, appeal.
On Feb. 10 last year, the apex court upheld the 68-year-old’s conviction and five-year jail term for sodomizing his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 31, in 2008.
On March 16 last year, the board rejected a petition by Ibrahim’s family to pardon him.
Ibrahim, his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and children, Nurul Izzah Anwar and Nurul Nuha Anwar, then filed the judicial review application June 24 last year.
The court ruling came a day after former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad proposed the formation of a new political party to join the current opposition.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Ibrahim expressed hope that the new party would strengthen aspirations of defeating the ruling government.
Ibrahim said all parties should join hands in a new coalition, and drop the current Hope Pact — consisting of Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the National Honest Party.
“I think it is a positive thing. It is time we [opposition parties] consolidate,” he said after attending his court case.
Mohamad, the country’s longest serving prime minister and once the strongest supporter of Prime Minister Najib Razak, announced the formation of the yet-to-be named political vehicle Thursday, with a main focus of defeating Razak and winning the next general election.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, and Mohamad’s son Mukhriz Mahathir — both sacked months ago as members of the Razak-led United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) for continuous criticism of the PM — are widely expected to lead the new party along with UMNO’s former vice-president Shafie Apdal.