By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By BERNAMA
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as an MP after a difficult and hard road back into Malaysia’s mainstream politics.
Anwar’s Port Dickson parliamentary by-election victory last Saturday paved the way for the former deputy prime minister (DPM) to return to the Dewan Rakyat after a three-year absence.
His return was seen by some as unexpected, as the PKR de facto leader was serving his five-year jail sentence at the Sungai Buloh prison six months ago.
Anwar, who was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s apparent successor, had a fallout with the elder statesman and was subsequently jailed over corruption and sodomy charges.
However, Dr Mahathir and Anwar forged an unlikely alliance under the Pakatan Harapan coalition which ended Barisan Nasional’s (BN) 61-year rule of the country.
Anwar was released from jail after receiving a full pardon from the King in May. The pardon opened the door for the 71-year-old politician to contest in a by-election and return to mainstream politics.
The PKR president-elect said he will focus on parliamentary reforms on his return to the Dewan Rakyat. He will also succeed Dr Mahathir as the country’s eighth PM, under an agreement carved out during the creation of the Pakatan Harapan alliance.
Anwar’s return to the Dewan Rakyat created its own history as it is the first time that three members of a family — the husband, wife and daughter — are MPs at any one time.
Anwar’s wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is the DPM, while Nurul Izzah is the MP of Permatang Pauh, a seat which Anwar first contested in 1982 under the BN banner.
Anwar’s swearing-in ceremony was closely watched. Clad in the traditional black baju Melayu, Anwar arrived at the Parliament lobby at 9.45am, accompanied by family members and supporters.
After a meeting with Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, Anwar took his oath as an MP at 10.05am, the first agenda of the Dewan Rakyat’s session.
Anwar said his return to active politics is a vindication after years of political oblivion and criminal convictions.
“Every time I was sent to prison, I was dismissed and had no avenue to appeal to a just court or to be adjudicated fairly.
“But now I feel vindicated…but then, I share the pride with the people of Port Dickson because of their wisdom,” he said after the swearing-in ceremony.
Dr Mahathir was also pleased with Anwar’s return to the Dewan Rakyat.
“Of course, I am happy he (Anwar) is back. We expected him to come back. We knew he was going to win,” he said.
Anwar said he plans to propose parliamentary reforms with the support of the government. Dr Mahathir has also endorsed the reforms.
“Our Parliament in the past was considered as a rubber-stamp. MPs would debate, but of course they would just endorse whatever was decided.
“But in Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto, we have a new approach to ensure that the Parliament is more effective through the formation of select committees or various other discussions,” he said.
Anwar was previously elected as the Permatang Pauh MP from 1982 to 1999 and 2008 to 2015, and had last participated in a parliamentary debate on Budget 2015 before he was imprisoned on Feb 10, 2015. He won the Port Dickson parliamentary by-election by a 23,560-vote majority.
Meanwhile the PKR leader pulled out all the stops on the first day as an MP, saying Malaysia is expected to secure full cooperation from several countries over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) investigation.
“It is not a political decision. I would appreciate if a country may choose not to cooperate or collaborate if an action is deemed purely political or political harassment.
“But in this case, we will educe evidence, submit probably documents to prove there is a compelling case that a formal investigation must be conducted and all governments must respect that,” Anwar said.
Investigations are said to involve 10 countries, including the US, Singapore and Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Anwar said the Pakatan Harapan government has honoured core issues underlined in its general election manifesto.
He agreed with Dr Mahathir that certain constraints have prevented the implementation of some of the promises, but stressed that Malaysians should look at what has been rectified.
“To me, the core issues decided by Pakatan Harapan have been honoured,” he said, citing areas like governance, corruption, as well as a no-compromise stance on fund leakages and abuse of power.
Last Friday, Dr Mahathir said it was not possible to abolish toll collections, one of the pledges in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto.
“I think Dr Mahathir is right to say some of these issues need to be rehashed or re-looked upon,” said Anwar.
“The stark reality…we do reconsider (as it involves) the financial constraints (of the nation), the present economic reality and the global trading arrangements,” he said.