Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Friday visited his political archrival, jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who is recovering from surgery, in an unlikely stopover ahead of a general election expected to take place by mid-May 2018.
Anwar, 70, who is serving a five-year prison term after being convicted of a sodomy charge three years ago, is recuperating after undergoing a surgery on his right shoulder last Sunday.
“I visited Anwar Ibrahim at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital today. … May he recover soon,” Najib said on his Facebook page and Twitter account.
His comment was accompanied by a photo showing Najib, his wife, Rosmah Mansor, Anwar and his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison in 2014 after the Court of Appeal reversed a High Court decision and found him guilty of sodomizing a former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, in 2008. Anwar has denied the charges, describing them as politically motivated.
This is Anwar’s second sodomy conviction. He was arrested, convicted and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges in 1998. The sodomy conviction charge was overturned in 2004, but the corruption conviction stood.
Following the court action, he claimed he was framed by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the party that leads Malaysia’s ruling bloc.
Malaysian government officials and UMNO leaders have denied framing Anwar, who was imprisoned for abuse of power in 1999 when Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister.
Mahathir and Anwar apparently ironed out their differences and agreed to form an opposition alliance called Pakatan Harapan (The Pact of Hope) with Anwar as its de facto leader.
Son issues statement
Anwar’s son, Muhamad Ihsan Anwar, issued a statement Friday, thanking Najib for his hospital visit, but emphasized that his father was injured during an accident while under government custody last month and his condition “worsened from imprisonment.”
Muhamad Ihsan was referring to an incident that occurred while Anwar was being transported to prison after receiving treatment at the hospital.
Najib’s hospital visit comes five days after Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told a political gathering that the country’s general election will take place in six months.
“The elections will take place no later than 180 days from now,” he said. “Those who say that the elections will take place later than that are out of touch with reality.”