KUALA LUMPUR: A call by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to release Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was described as a gimmick aimed at winning support from components within the opposition pact.
Special Affairs Department (Jasa) director general Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi said it was a political ploy by the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman after failing to manipulate many other issues.
Puad said the latest move shows Mahathir is desperate because he appears to realise that he is being gradually sidelined by the opposition coalition having sparked conflicts including with the Malay rulers.
“I am confident Mahathir is only pretending he wants Anwar to be released to ‘win’ the trust of other opposition supporters who are now realising he is becoming s liability to them.
“If it was true Mahathir wants to release Anwar, how could be possible he was adamant in wanting to send him to jail back in 1999.
“The latest call is a mere gimmick and not a sincere request, purportedly because of Anwar’s health,” Puad said.
Puad said this in response to the call made by Mahathir in a joint statement with US-based human rights lawyer Kimberley Motley, where they described Anwar as a political prisoner.
In a Twitter posting Gerakan Youth Chief Tan Keng Liang said the call by Mahathir was puzzling.
Tan asked; “Why now and not when he (Mahathir) was prime minister ?”
Pas vice president Idris Ahmad said Mahathir should retract his statement because he had previously said Anwar was not capable of becoming a leader.