Malaysia’s Mahathir says would back old foe Anwar as prime minister

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad smiles during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, in this March 30, 2017 file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 06 July 2017

Malaysia’s Mahathir says would back old foe Anwar as prime minister

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is seeking the release of jailed opposition leader, and once bitter foe, Anwar Ibrahim, and would have no objection to him being premier, the Guardian reported on Thursday.
In an interview with the Guardian in London, Mahathir said Anwar should be released from jail, where he is serving a five-year sentence for sodomy, and allowed to contest elections as he was a victim of a political vendetta.
Anwar is seen as the greatest threat to Prime Minister Najib Razak and his coalition, after leading a three-party opposition alliance to stunning electoral gains in 2013.
“In the case of Anwar we can make a case that he was unfairly treated. The decision of the court was obviously influenced by the government and I think the incoming government would be able to persuade the king to give a full pardon for Anwar,” Mahathir told the Guardian.
“In which case he would be able to participate in politics and become PM. I can have no objection to that.”
Malaysia’s political landscape has been shaped for nearly two decades by a bitter feud between Anwar and Mahathir.
Anwar was once a protégé of the veteran prime minister, Mahathir, and the rising star of Malaysian politics, but they fell out in the late 1990s.
Soon afterwards, Anwar was jailed for the first time on charges of sodomy and graft, after being sacked as the deputy prime minister. He denied the charges, dismissing them as politically motivated.
He was convicted and jailed in 2013, when Najib was prime minister, for another sodomy charge, which he and his supporters described as a politically motivated attempt to end his career.
But after their years of animosity, opposition to Prime Minister Najib is drawing Anwar and Mahathir back together.
Last year, Anwar endorsed a political compact spearheaded by Mahathir to fight Najib.
Najib has been embroiled in a corruption scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad. He has denied any wrongdoing, even as the fund became the subject of money laundering investigations in the US and at least five other countries.
The sodomy conviction disqualifies Anwar from political office and from contesting the next election that must be held by mid-2018. A royal pardon, however, would let him contest.
Government sources have told Reuters that Najib had been preparing to call polls in September, but the timing has since become less clear in the wake of the scandals.
Last month, Anwar said he would not be a candidate for prime minister in the upcoming elections.
Mahathir, who turns 92 next week, has said he would consider taking up the premier position again, but only if there was no acceptable candidate after an opposition election victory.


Russia says world’s largest nuclear icebreaker embarks on Arctic voyage

Updated 22 September 2020

Russia says world’s largest nuclear icebreaker embarks on Arctic voyage

  • Russian state firm Rosatomflot has called the vessel the world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker
  • The ship was named after a Soviet-era icebreaker of the same name that in 1977 became the first surface ship to reach the North Pole

MOSCOW: A nuclear-powered ice breaker Russia says is the world’s largest and most powerful set off on Tuesday on a two-week journey to the Arctic as part of Moscow’s efforts to tap the region’s commercial potential.
Known as “Arktika,” the nuclear icebreaker left St. Petersburg and headed for the Arctic port of Murmansk, a journey that marks its entry into Russia’s icebreaker fleet.
Russian state firm Rosatomflot has called the vessel the world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker. It is more than 173 meters long, designed for a crew of 53, and can break ice almost three-meters thick.
The ship is seen as crucial to Moscow’s efforts to develop the Northern Sea Route, which runs from Murmansk to the Bering Strait near Alaska.
Amid warmer climate cycles, Russia hopes the route could become a mini Suez Canal, cutting sea transport times from Asia to Europe.
“The creation of a modern nuclear icebreaker fleet capable of ensuring regular year-round and safe navigation through the entire Northern Sea Route is a strategic task for our country,” Vyacheslav Ruksha, head of Rosatom’s Northern Sea Route Directorate, said in a statement.
Prior to its voyage to the Arctic, the icebreaker was tested during sea trials in the stormy waters of the Gulf of Finland, navigating its way through high winds and towering waves.
The ship was named after a Soviet-era icebreaker of the same name that in 1977 became the first surface ship to reach the North Pole.
Russia has stepped up its construction of icebreakers in a bid to increase freight traffic in Arctic waters.
President Vladimir Putin said last year that the country’s Arctic fleet would operate at least 13 heavy-duty icebreakers, the majority of which would be powered by nuclear reactors.