I would be OK with efforts to free Anwar: Tun Mahathir

DAWN CHAN

SHAH ALAM: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would be “OK” with efforts to free Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim – his once deputy prime minister, whom he dismissed and jailed almost 20 years ago – should Pakatan Harapan win the next general election (GE14).

Anwar is currently serving a five-year jail term for sodomy at the Sungai Buloh prison.

"If the people want Anwar, who am I to stop them?" said Tun Mahathir during the HardTalk programme held at Kompleks Belia in Section 7, last night.

Tun Mahathir was responding to a question over whether he would support efforts to seek a royal pardon for Anwar were Pakatan Harapan to gain power in the GE14.

The query was made by Penang Institute fellow, Wong Chin Huat, who added that the apparent reconciliation between the two would be cemented were Tun Mahathir to lead the campaign for a royal pardon.

To this, though, Tun Mahathir replied: “This matter needs to be done by the Prime Minister. I am not the Prime Minister."

The HardTalk programme, organised by Persatuan Masyarakat Penyayang Selangor, was also attended by Salor assemblyman, Datuk Husam Musa.

Tun Mahathir and Husam fielded questions on various issues posed by Wong, Pas Batu Burok assemblyman Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi and academician Dr Maszlee Malik.

Speaking to reporters later, Tun Mahathir said Pas' Private Member's Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 has nothing to do with Islam and would only split Muslims.

"Islam does not ask us to do (things) that would split Muslims. (The bill) is being used for political reasons (by Pas) only. In our multi-racial and multi-religious country, we must be sensitive towards one another.

"In Islam, we respect other religions. So, we cannot do something that forces people to fear Islam," he added.