KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal to the King for him to be freed has been denied, which means the former deputy prime minister has lost his parliamentary seat, authorities said.
Anwar’s petition for a royal pardon for his sodomy conviction was rejected, which means an automatic disqualification from the parliament, said Pandier Amimm Mulia, the parliament speaker.
Anwar’s family appealed to the King for royal pardon after the court sentenced him to five years in prison last February. His conviction was upheld by Malaysia’s highest court.
He has denied the charges but the highest court agreed with an appeals court that last year overturned his 2012 acquittal on the charge of sodomy.
In confirming this via a statement, Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said that he received a letter from the Pardons Board informing that the “jail sentence for the applicant (Anwar) should continue.”
“A notice has been delivered to the EC in line with Article 54 of the Federal Constitution on the vacancy of the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat as soon as the disqualification of its MP takes effect,” he said.
The family of Anwar, however, said it has not received official notification of the rejection from the King.
According to senior federal counsel, Amarjeet Singh, the Board, which is under the office of King Abdul Halim, did not give an explanation for the decision to reject the plea.
Anwar served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1993 to 1998 and Finance Minister from 1991 to 1998 when he was a member of UMNO, the major party in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
However, he was removed from his post by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and jailed for corruption and sodomy.
His prosecution has been criticised by human rights groups and several foreign governments, including the US, UK and Australia.
Following his release in 2004, Anwar became the leading figure in the opposition and helped coalesce the opposition parties into the Pakatan Rakyat, which contested the 2008 and 2013 general elections. – BusinessNewsAsia.com