Pardoned Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim says decades-old affirmative action policies for the country's Malay majority must be discarded in favor of a new program to help the poor regardless of race.

In an interview with The Associated Press, the prime minister-in-waiting also says he plans to run in a by-election this year to become a member of Parliament but that he isn't in a rush to take over the top job.

The 70-year-old Anwar was convicted of sodomy in 2015 in a case he said was politically motivated. He was given a royal pardon Wednesday and freed from custody after the stunning electoral victory of his alliance led by former foe Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar said Thursday that poor Malays will benefit more from merit-based policies that are transparent.