“The purpose of the investigations is not to fix someone but is to really help him clear his name,” Domestic Trade Minister Shahrir Samad said.
A senior police official, who declined to be identified, confirmed that Anwar would be held in custody.
The authorities sealed off roads to the police headquarters where Anwar had been taken, while a water cannon was on standby, as the authorities braced for a possible repeat of 1998 protests when Anwar’s arrest brought tens of thousands onto the streets.
About 400 Anwar supporters had stood outside the police headquarters carrying banners demanding his release.
“Don’t provoke the people … why are police trying to test the people’s patience?” Azmin Ali, a leader of Anwar’s People Justice Party, said. “I am giving a very strong reminder to the police, don’t provoke us.”
Anwar was expected to be charged with sodomy, William Leong, another of Anwar’s lawyers, said earlier on Wednesday.
Leong said the authorities had acted extraordinarily by arresting Anwar instead of allowing him to voluntarily assist police with their investigations.
“If it had been an ordinary investigation, then they should have allowed him to go to the police headquarters as has been agreed and they should have allowed him to take his statement,” he said.
Anwar had agreed to meet investigators on Wednesday but was arrested before he went to the police.