KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visited jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in hospital on Friday (Nov 17), in a rare gesture of goodwill between the long-time political rivals ahead of a general election expected in six months.
Anwar, 70, is recuperating from surgery to his shoulder last Sunday .
“I went to visit Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today... I hope he recovers quickly,” tweeted Datuk Seri Najib, posting a photo of his visit. The PM was accompanied by his wife Rosmah Mansor while Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was also present.
Anwar’s son Muhamad Ihsan Anwar expressed his gratitude to the government for the Prime Minister’s courtesy call, but noted in his statement on behalf of the family that his father’s shoulder injury was “worsened from imprisonment and the accident last month whilst under the custody of the authorities".
Anwar is serving a five-year prison sentence after being convicted for sodomy in 2014, charges he has maintained were politically motivated after he led the opposition alliance to sweeping gains in the 2008 and 2013 general elections.
Anwar was first imprisoned for abuse of power in 1999, when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was premier. Earlier this year, the two men cast aside their differences with the common aim of bringing down Mr Najib’s administration, and forming opposition pact Pakatan Harapan.
Mr Najib’s photo opportunity at Anwar’s bedside yesterday would appear to downplay the significance of the new-found friendship between former foes Anwar and Dr Mahathir.
In his statement, Mr Muhamad Ihsan also requested that his father be allowed to recuperate in a medical facility outside of prison and given access to physiotherapy until he recovers fully.
“I hope the manner this humanitarian issue has been managed so far will generate further goodwill on the part of the government of Malaysia to extend all the medical attention necessary to our father,” he said.