Anwar Ibrahim has been sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister, defeating a Malay nationalist leader for the top post after divisive general elections resulted in a hung parliament.
Becoming prime minister marked Anwar’s fast-paced political journey, from a former deputy prime minister fired and jailed in the 1990s to massive street protests and a reform movement that developed into an important political force.
It was the second victory for his reform bloc, which won the polls in 2018 but lost power after 22 months as a power struggle led to continued political turmoil.
Last Saturday’s election, which was supposed to end the unrest that has led to three prime ministers since 2018, instead created fresh uncertainty after neither party won a clear mandate. .
Anwar’s multiracial coalition of Hope, leading with 82 seats, lacks the 112 seats needed for a majority. Muhyiddin’s right-wing National Coalition won 73 seats, with its ally the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) emerging as the largest single party with 49 seats.
Anwar won after smaller blocs agreed to back him in forming a unity government. However, he faces a noble task of healing the deepening racial divides following Saturday’s poll and revitalizing an economy already grappling with rising inflation and a currency has fallen to the weakest level.
Malays make up two-thirds of Malaysia’s 33 million people, including many ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.
“Anwar’s political struggles are comparable to that of Nelson Mandela (of South Africa), as the two have experienced many persecutions during the democratization of their countries,” said Ei Sun Oh of the Institute of International Relations. Singapore’s International said.
“It is hoped that under Anwar’s leadership, Malaysia can return to a more open and inclusive society and economy, hopefully restoring its credibility on the world stage.”
Anwar, 75, has twice stood at the apex of power.
A passionate youth leader, Anwar rose rapidly to become deputy prime minister and finance minister in the 1990s. He was prepared to take over from then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad but failed. The bitter defeat of Malaysia’s response to the Asian economic crisis led to Anwar being fired in 1998, detained without trial and later charged with sodomy and corruption – charges Anwar It’s a political conspiracy. Mahathir to end his career. Amnesty International calls Anwar a “prisoner of conscience”.
Anwar was freed in 2004 after Malaysia’s high court overturned his sodomy conviction, a year after Mahathir resigned as prime minister after 22 years in power. But he was jailed a second time for sodomy in 2015 in a case he said was aimed at undermining his coalition gaining an advantage against the UMNO-led government. However, he did not give up.
From his cell, Anwar made peace with Mahathir, who had returned to politics as anger boiled over over a multibillion-dollar scandal involving state investment fund 1MDB. Their reunion led to historic polls in 2018 that saw the removal of the coalition led by UMNO, which has led since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957, as unheard of. can imagine.
Mahathir became the world’s oldest leader at the age of 92 after the victory. Anwar was pardoned soon after and was supposed to succeed Mahathir, but infighting brought down their government after just 22 months. UMNO is back as part of Muhyiddin’s squabbling government.
However, the brief rule of Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan led to a significant upheaval as UMNO’s once powerful leaders were jailed or put on trial for corruption. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak was jailed in a case related to the 1MDB story. His wife, the current leader of UMNO, and several party leaders are also battling separate corruption charges.
Anwar has campaigned on a multiracial platform, promising to end racial and religious segregation, while draining billions of dollars into entrenched corruption. He finally succeeded in his quest of perseverance on Thursday after a long battle.