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=MALAYSIA PRESS: News Headlines On Thursday, May 17

KUALA LUMPUR (May 17) -- Here’s a roundup of local news:

*Malaysia’s reformist icon Anwar freed, given royal pardon

Reformist Anwar Ibrahim celebrated a “new dawn” for Malaysia after he was given a royal pardon and freed from custody Wednesday, transforming a political prisoner into a prime minister-in-waiting following his alliance’s stunning election victory. Anwar, 70, was convicted of sodomy in 2015 in a case that he said was aimed at crushing his alliance, which was making gains against Malaysia’s long-ruling coalition government. His sentence was set to end June 8, but last week’s unexpected election win, which ended the National Front’s 60-year rule, led to his swift release. - The Associated Press

*Malaysian pro-democracy leader’s release will revive old rivalry

When it finally came, Anwar Ibrahim’s release from detention Wednesday was almost as dramatic as the pivotal democracy leader’s first arrest more than 22 years ago-ordered by the man who is again leading Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Swarmed by news-camera teams at the hospital where he had been serving a sentence on what he says were trumped-up sodomy charges Anwar was hustled into a black SUV by prison guards in camouflage fatigues and red berets for a trip to the national palace. - The Wall Street Journal

*Malaysian police raid ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak’s house

Malaysian police visited former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s house late Wednesday, reportedly searching for documents as part of a renewed probe into a massive corruption scandal involving a state investment fund that is being investigated abroad. More than a dozen police vehicles arrived at Najib’s house shortly after he returned home from prayers at a nearby mosque, fueling speculation that he may be arrested after new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned that he could be charged soon over the 1MDB fund fiasco. - The Associated Press

*Malaysian PM Mahathir says govt will pay 1MDB debt that it has guaranteed

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia was committed to pay any debt linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development, if it had been guaranteed by the government. The newly appointed 92-year-old prime minister also said Malaysia would reach out to Switzerland, the United States, Singapore and Luxembourg to return any 1MDB funds they may have received. - Reuters

*1MDB top guns barred from leaving Malaysia

The former CEO of 1Malaysia Development and a board member who has been with the fund since it was set up have been placed on the Immigration Department's travel blacklist. Ismee and Shahrol were mentioned in the Auditor-General's executive summary of the 1MDB audit report, in connection to the issuance of RM5bil Islamic Medium Term Notes in 2009. - The Star

*Singapore PM to meet Malaysia's Mahathir on Saturday

Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, will visit neighboring Malaysia’s newly elected prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday, his office said. Mahathir ruled Malaysia from 1981 to 2003. Last week, his opposition coalition defeated Prime Minister Najib Razak and the UMNO bloc, which has governed Malaysia for six decades. - Reuters

*Mahathir is ramping up pressure on Malaysian bonds

Mahathir Mohamad’s return may spell more pressure on Malaysia’s beleaguered bond market - almost a decade of efforts spent narrowing a fiscal deficit is at risk just when capital is flowing out of emerging markets. Already reeling from the impact of a stronger dollar and higher U.S. Treasury yields, ringgit sovereign securities may face a further blow as newly-elected Prime Minister Mahathir presses ahead with a plan to scrap a consumption tax and reinstate fuel subsidies. Bond investors and rating companies are worried that may hurt efforts to narrow a persistent budget shortfall. - Bloomberg News

- By Kuala Lumpur Newsroom; kleditorial@nikkeinewsrise.com; +60320267363
- Edited by Glen Nicol Perkinson
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