KUALA LUMPUR – May 22, 2017: Pakatan Harapan’s plan to have Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister may may face some hurdles given the prison term he is currently serving.
Firstly, without a royal pardon Anwar will be disqualified from contesting in any election until 2025. He is due to be released the latest in 2020.
The party’s national congress which ended yesterday unanimously endorsed Anwar as their prime minister candidate if the opposition wins the next general election.
Citing Article 48(3) of the federal Constitution, International Islamic University of Malaysia constitutional law expert Associate Professor Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz pointed out that the waiting period applies to anyone who has been jailed for more than a year.
Anwar will be 78 in 2025, the same age his former boss Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was when he resigned in 2003.
PKR, however, has a plan to hasten Anwar’s route to the chair in Putrajaya.
“If we win the next general election, we’re not going to let him (Anwar) wait that long,” said PKR’s Kapar member of parliament G. Manivannan today.
Manivannan, who is also a member of Anwar’s legal team, said PKR has outlined two methods to have Anwar immediately appointed PM after his release from prison.
The first is to re-submit Anwar’s royal pardon application, as royal clemency can supersede Article 48(3).
The application was first submitted in 2015 but was rejected by the then Yang di-Pertuan Agung Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah during the board’s meeting.
“We have not been successful before because the government has been influencing the board. It’s not that we don’t trust the rulers but we know Anwar would have a better chance in being pardoned if Pakatan Harapan becomes the government of the day,” said Manivannan.
Should that fail, PKR will once again apply for a judicial review of the sentence against Anwar for sodomy.
Anwar’s legal team filed for a similar review last year but it was rejected by the Federal Court.
“As far as the opposition is concerned, his case was politically influenced. If we win (the election), we will give more room for the judges to take another look at his case,” said Manivannan.
PKR deputy youth chief Dr. Afif Bahardin expressed optimism Anwar will be released early from prison next year for good behaviour.
He also scoffed at the suggestion that Anwar, at 78, will be too old to be a PM.
“Being a PM is not about age…. it’s about leadership. At Najib’s (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak) age right now, is he fit to be the PM?” he rhetorically asked.