Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim is aiming to make his political comeback by the year end as his party announced yesterday that he will contest a by-election in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan.
Datuk Seri Anwar's return to politics has been widely expected, as he prepares to ascend to power as part of an agreement within the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact to make him prime minister in two years.
Port Dickson MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah has stepped aside to allow the former jailed leader to run in his seat.
"Last night, I was informed that after having discussed with party leadership, Anwar Ibrahim decided to accept my offer to... contest in the Port Dickson constituency," said Datuk Danyal, a first-term lawmaker, at a press conference yesterday. "Hence, I'm now announcing my resignation as MP with immediate effect."
PH had promised voters prior to the historic May general election that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be appointed prime minister if it won, on the agreement that Dr Mahathir would hand over the post to Mr Anwar in due course after the imprisoned leader was allowed to run in an election.
Mr Anwar, who is president-elect of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), one of the four parties in PH, was serving a five-year jail sentence at the time. He was given a royal pardon and released from prison days after PH triumphed in the May elections.
Anwar Ibrahim's political career
•September 1998: Sacked from deputy prime minister post by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and charged with sodomy and corruption. Mr Anwar says the charges are politically motivated.
•April 1999: Jailed for six years for corruption.
•August 2000: Jailed for nine years for sodomy.
•September 2004: Freed after the highest court overturns sodomy conviction.
•March 2008: His Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition wins 48 per cent of popular vote in the general election, taking over five states. Barisan Nasional retains control of Parliament.
•April 2008: Ban on holding public office, due to his graft conviction, expires.
•June 2008: Male aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan lodges police report claiming he was sodomised by Mr Anwar.
•July 2008: Mr Anwar announces he will run in parliamentary by-election for the Permatang Pauh constituency in Penang, after his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail vacates seat.
•Aug 7, 2008: Charged with sodomy.
•Aug 26, 2008: Wins by-election.
•January 2012: Acquitted of sodomy charge.
•May 2013: Leads PR to win 51 per cent of the popular vote in the elections. But BN wins more parliamentary seats and retains control.
•March 2014: Court of Appeal overturns acquittal.
•February 2015: Federal Court upholds conviction and he is jailed for five years.
•May 2018: Granted full pardon by the King and cleared of all previous convictions after Pakatan Harapan coalition wins the May 9 general election.
Mr Anwar was not present at the press conference.
Datuk Saifuddin Nasution, secretary-general of PKR, explained that the party selected that seat for Mr Anwar's anticipated political return due to several factors, one being that the ward is seen as a "safe seat".
"Port Dickson has been a constituency that's been represented by PKR in the last three terms. For that, we consider it as one of the safer seats," said Mr Saifuddin.
He added that as of now, there are no plans for Mr Anwar to take a post in the administration on his return to Parliament, as Mr Anwar has said he prefers to focus on parliamentary reform.
Mr Danyal has submitted his resignation letter to Parliament's Speaker, after which the Election Commission will set a by-election date. Mr Danyal is relatively new to politics. He was roped in to contest the May polls at the eleventh hour, after PKR's initial candidate was penalised by the Election Commission for failing to submit a document.
Mr Anwar's daughter, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah, will head her father's campaign in Port Dickson, said Mr Saifuddin. "This election machinery will be headed by Nurul, as a director for this polls," he said, as quoted by The Star.