Anwar Ibrahim named Malaysia’s 10th prime minister


SINGAPORE – The wait is over. And this is a comeback.

Nearly a week after Malaysia’s general election resulted in a hung parliament, longtime opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim appears to have It won enough support among disparate parties to form the Southeast Asian country’s next government, preventing the rise of more conservative political forces.

The naming of Anwar as prime minister on Thursday brought a temporary end to a chaotic election season that saw the fall of political mogul Mahathir Mohamad, the surprise gains of a far-right Islamic party and the endless infighting among potential allies that largely fueled it. Conviction of former Prime Minister Najib Razak on charges including money laundering and abuse of power.

On Thursday afternoon, after consulting with government officials, the Malaysian king said he had approved Anwar’s appointment as the country’s 10th prime minister, and Anwar was sworn in a few hours later. In Malaysia, a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy, the king officially appoints the head of state.

The appointment, contested by some opponents, is a dramatic comeback for Anwar, 75, an international figure whose political rise, fall and comeback spanned generations.

Anwar founded the country’s Reformasi political movement, which has rallied for social justice and equality since the 1990s. He is also known as a supporter of Muslim democracy and has previously praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was once known as a moderate democrat. Islam is the state religion in Muslim-majority Malaysia, which has significant economic and security ties with the United States, but other religions are widely practiced.

This Malaysian politician was imprisoned and convicted. He is now on the brink of power.

Anwar, a former deputy prime minister under Mahathir, who later became his staunch rival before reconciliation, spent decades trying to reach the country’s highest political post. Along the way, he gained the support and friendship of international leaders such as former US Vice President Al Gore. He also served two lengthy prison terms for embezzlement and corruption — convictions that Anwar and his supporters say were politically motivated.

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Anwar’s multi-ethnic reform coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), or Alliance of Hope, won 82 seats after last week’s election. The coalition was the largest single bloc, but still a few dozen seats short of the 112 seats needed to form a majority. The party competed with Periktan Nasional (PN), a right-wing coalition that won 73 seats, to convince voters – as well as the country’s king, Sultan Abdullah of Pahang – that it had the mandate to form the next government.

Anwar’s accession was made possible after Barisan Nasional, a conservative coalition that has ruled Malaysia for most of its post-independence history, said it would not participate in a PN-led government. Barisan Nasional won 30 seats in the latest polls and was in the king position.

Analysts say that while Anwar may have won, he now faces a stiff challenge from unifying the country’s divided electorate.

“Polarization [in Malaysia] “It’s still going strong,” said Bridget Welch, a research fellow at the University of Nottingham’s Asian Research Institute in Malaysia. He said that while Anwar has a strong image on the world stage, he has “weak authority” domestically.

Anwar opposes the race-based affirmative action policies that were a hallmark of previous Barisan governments. Policies favoring Malay Muslims are credited by some analysts with creating a broad middle class in the nation of 32.5 million. But critics consider these laws to be the cause of racial animosity, the expulsion of young Malaysian Indian and Chinese minorities from the country, and the creation of systematic corruption.

In the run-up to the election, PN leader and former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin made the anti-Semitic claim that Anwar’s coalition was working with Jews and Christians to “Christianize” Malaysia.

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Malaysian Council of Churches condemned The statements of Mohiuddin and Anwar called their rival’s statements hopeless. “I urge Mohiuddin to be a mature leader and not use racial propaganda to divide the multiple reality in Malaysia,” he wrote on Twitter.

After the announcement of Anwar’s appointment, Mohiuddin asked his rival in a press conference to prove that he has the necessary numbers to govern. He claimed that his coalition has the support of 115 MPs, which constitutes the majority.

Regardless of whether they supported him or not, the appointment of a new prime minister gives Malaysians a chance to have a say in two years of political turmoil that have included the resignations of two prime ministers, claims to power and snap elections in the heart of the tropics. . After the country’s monsoon season closed and it became clear that no single bloc could command a majority, confusion spread over who would lead the country. The king summoned party leaders to the palace for hours of closed-door deliberations and delayed his decision day after day.

“We have been waiting for some time for stability and the restoration of democracy,” said Adrian Pereira, a labor rights activist from the western state of Selangor. Voters are still eager to see what kind of coalition Anwar has put together and how power-sharing will work, he said, “but for now, it’s kind of a relief for everyone.”

Anwar’s party deputy Rafizi Ramli said on Thursday that the new prime minister will lead a “unity government”.

“We must all move forward and learn to work together to rebuild Malaysia,” he added Statement It also urged Malaysians to reduce political tensions by avoiding “inflammatory” messages or gatherings.

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Analysis: Most people do not know enough about Malaysia and its government. Here is what you need to understand.

One of the biggest surprises of the election was the surge in support for the Islamic Party of Malaysia, known as PAS, which more than doubled its seats in parliament, from 18 to 49., It advocates ultimate Islamic rule in Malaysia and has emerged as a power broker in recent years, partnering with other parties that support Malaysia’s pro-Muslim policies.

While Anwar’s coalition will govern, PAS will be the largest party in the lower house of parliament.

Before the swearing in of Anwar on Thursday evening, Abdul Hadi Awang, the leader of PAS issued a statement Thanking voters for their support, he said: “The party’s 71 years of struggle in Malaysia is increasingly being accepted by the people.”

James Chin, a University of Tasmania professor who studies Malaysian politics, said he was “struck” by PAS’s electoral success, which he said reflected the wider rise of political Islam in Malaysia.

While Malaysia and neighboring Indonesia have long presented themselves as moderate Islamic countries, that may now be changing, China said. He noted that PAS has made its strongest gains in rural areas, and there is early evidence that they are gaining support from new voters, including young Malays. Liberal and non-Muslim Malay voters are now worried that a strengthened PAS is out to expand its influence, including over the country’s education policies.

“I knew that PAS had heavy support in the Malay heartland … but I still didn’t know that they could spread so quickly,” Chin said. “No one did.”

Katrina Ang from Seoul and Emily Ding reported from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hari Raj in Seoul contributed to this report.


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