Anwar still Opposition Leader until official notice from Pardon’s Board, Pakatan says


(Malay Mail Online) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim remains in his post as Opposition Leader as there has been no official confirmation from the Royal Pardons Board on the outcome of his petition, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers said today.

This, they said, is despite a senior government lawyer’s confirmation in court today that the board had rejected Anwar’s petition for a royal pardon.

“The issue of who is Opposition Leader does not arise for now.

“The Permatang Pauh seat is not vacated yet,” PR chief whips Anthony Loke, Datuk Johari Abdul, and Datuk Mahfuz Omar said at a news conference at the Parliament lobby.

“If it is true, then there would have to be a by-election, and who will be Opposition Leader would be decided after that by-election.

“But nothing is confirmed,” Loke said.

At a separate news conference, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli said that there have been “conflicting reports” on the matter, and that Anwar’s family have not been notified of any decision.

“As far as we are concerned the process is still ongoing. Best to wait,” he said.

Senior federal counsel Amarjeet Singh today supplied an affidavit from the board and a letter from the Attorney-General’s Chambers to support his notice last week to the High Court hearing Anwar’s application for a judicial review of his imprisonment, prompting the judge to dismiss the bid.

“On 16 March 2015, the Pardons Board rejected Anwar’s application for pardon, and since the (forfeiture) of his position of MP takes effect immediately under the Federal Constitution, there is no basis for the (judicial review) application to proceed, and it has been dismissed by the court,” Amarjeet said.

The rejection effectively invokes Anwar’s disqualification as Permatang Pauh MP and federal opposition leader due to his five-year sentence for sodomy, which had been stayed pending the disposal of his petition.

It will also force the PR pact that Anwar heads to confront the complicated task of electing a new Opposition Leader in his stead, during a time when allies DAP and PAS are openly hostile towards each other over disagreements on hudud and other issues.

Anwar’s lawyers refused to accept dismissal, however, saying that they not received official notice on it from the Agong.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya insisted that the only indication of the rejection was the documents supplied by Amarjeet, which she said did not clearly state that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has decided on the petition.

“When we met Anwar on Monday, neither he nor his family had received any decision from the Pardons Board,” said Latheefa Koya, one of Anwar’s lawyers.

She added that they will proceed in appealing the High Court’s dismissal of the judicial review bid under the assumption that Anwar’s petition remains pending.

When asked how the Secretariat of the Pardons Board could provide the affidavit conveying the dismissal if a decision had not been made, Latheefa said she did not know.

On February 10, the Federal Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s 2014 ruling that had reversed Anwar’s acquittal of sodomising former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, also sentencing him to five years’ jail.

On February 24, Anwar’s family sent a request for a royal pardon to delay his disqualification from his Permatang Pauh seat. They also applied to the Prison Commissioner to give Anwar leave to attend Parliament.

However, they received a letter on March 4 from the Prisons Commissioner rejecting their application, prompting the decision to seek judicial review.