“Long live Anwar! Long live Anwar!”
Deafening chants ring out through the warm night air as the massive crowd in the Malaysian capital gathers to witness history in the making.
The crowds are out in force to see Anwar Ibrahim – who for so long, has been behind bars.
Now pardoned by the King, the once high-flying politician is finally back in public and back in the political arena at this defining moment in his country’s history.
“Now there is a new dawn for Malaysia. I must thank the people of Malaysia. Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Iban. Entire spectrum of our Malaysians, regardless of race and religion who stood by the principles of democracy and freedom. They demand change and it is our duty now to ensure that this mandate given to Pakatan Harapan will honour this commitment,” Anwar told supporters the night of his release from prison.
Anwar would still be languishing in jail if it wasn’t for a stunning election result in Malaysia.
One that saw a seemingly untouchable Prime Minister – Najib Razak – rejected by voters and now banned from leaving the country.
Najib now faces a potential prison sentence of his own with an investigation into a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal.
According to Mahathir Mohamad: “Yes, certain heads must fall. We found that some people were aiding and abetting a prime minister (Najib Razak) which the world condemns as a kleptocrat.”
In his 9 years in power, Najib held a tight grip on his country, controlling Malaysia’s media, the judiciary and targeting and imprisoning his opponents and critics.
Anwar and the new coalition government promise to change all that.
But while his party is in government for the first time, Anwar does not yet have a seat.
The man who is currently in charge, is his former boss and former foe, Mahathir Mohamad.
Mahathir and Anwar have history.
Anwar was once Deputy Prime Minister to the 92-year-old but after a falling out, Anwar was sacked and then jailed on sodomy and corruption charges. Mahathir said Anwar was ‘morally unfit to govern the country’.
But times have changed.
Anwar made an incredible political recovery, almost leading the Opposition to victory in 2013 elections.
But he was jailed again in 2015 for sodomy charges while Najib was Prime Minister.
While in jail, his health deteriorated and he spent the last few months in hospital, where he watched the election results unfold.
Al Jazeera was at the hospital with Anwar and his family, as he prepared to go to the palace to receive a royal pardon from Malaysia’s King.
Now cleared of all wrongdoing, Anwar’s political career has been resurrected and he can return to national politics by winning a parliamentary seat.
Mahathir promises to hand over power to him within 2 years.
As Malaysia faces a new dawn, will Anwar finally rise to lead his country?
101 East goes behind the scenes of Malaysia’s new dawn.
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