The release from prison of Anwar Ibrahim yesterday produced a predictable response from the man who is responsible for putting him there. Dr Mahathir, whom Paul Keating once described as a ‘recalcitrant’ is quoted in The Guardian as saying: “I’m not going to lose any sleep … I still believe that he’s guilty. My conscience is clear.” But what are the wider ramifications of Anwar’s release for the Malaysian political economy? The optimistic view is that it is a clear sign Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, does not plan to interfere in the judicial process. Others, however, are more sceptical, suggesting the main reason for Anwar’s release is that he no longer presents the political threat that he once did, and not too much should be read into the PM’s magnamity. I, for one, don’t think we’ve seen the last of Anwar on the Malaysian political scene.
With the departure of the irascible Dr Mahathir from the Malaysian political stage last October, there has been a lot of speculation that the former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, might be released from prison. Gaoled four years ago on charges of corruption and sodomy, Anwar had his day in court yesterday, seeking bail while awaiting the outcome of an appeal against the latter conviction for which he must serve nine years.