The freeing of Anwar Ibrahim

The release from prison of Anwar Ibrahim yesterday produced a predictable response from the man who is responsible for putting him there. Dr Mahathir, whom Paul Keating once described as a ‘recalcitrant’ is quoted in The Guardian as saying: “I’m not going to lose any sleep … I still believe that he’s guilty. My conscience is clear.” But what are the wider ramifications of Anwar’s release for the Malaysian political economy? The optimistic view is that it is a clear sign Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, does not plan to interfere in the judicial process. Others, however, are more sceptical, suggesting the main reason for Anwar’s release is that he no longer presents the political threat that he once did, and not too much should be read into the PM’s magnamity. I, for one, don’t think we’ve seen the last of Anwar on the Malaysian political scene.