MALAYSIA’S former prime minister Mahathir Mohamed and his longtime political foe Anwar Ibrahim set tongues wagging Monday when both men acted surprisingly cordial with one another during a court appearance in Kuala Lumpur.
For the first time in 18 years, the two former allies-turned-adversaries shook hands at the Jalan Duta court complex in the capital city as Mahathir attended a session to show support for the imprisoned Anwar who was filing a lawsuit against the government.
The meeting between the two was the first since Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister on Sept 2, 1998 when he was embroiled in allegations of power abuse and sexual misconduct.
— Hishamuddin Rais (@IshamRais) September 5, 2016
Anwar’s dismissal and subsequent imprisonment spurned the creation of the ‘reformasi’ (reformation) movement and the formation of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), or People’s Justice Party, the linchpin of federal opposition pact Pakatan Harapan.
The handshake marked a significant shift in the Malaysian political landscape as Mahathir has been a staunch critic of the opposition up until he had a fallout with Prime Minister Najib Razak over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal last year.
In court yesterday, Mahathir was accompanied by opposition stalwarts such as PKR deputy president and Selangor Chief Minister Azmin Ali, and other senior PKR MPs including Chua Tian Chang and Zuraida Kamaruddin, among others.
— Yin Shao Loong (@yinshaoloong) September 5, 2016
According to Free Malaysia Today, the 68-year-old Anwar, who is currently serving a five-year prison sentence over his second sodomy conviction, was present at the High court to challenge the government’s powerful National Security Council Act 2016
Anwar wants the court to declare the NSC Act unconstitutional and void through an injunction preventing its enforcement.
The NSC Act, which was made effective on Aug 1, accords the prime minister powers to designate an area as a “security area”, which allows security forces to inspect any person, vehicle or building without a warrant.