Home World Anwar Ibrahim’s hard-to-believe journey from prisoner to new Malaysian prime minister

Anwar Ibrahim’s hard-to-believe journey from prisoner to new Malaysian prime minister

by News Desk
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  • Malaysia’s current monarch sworn in Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister on Thursday.

  • Ibrahim, 75, was deputy prime minister and finance minister for much of the 1990s.

  • He was jailed in 1998 for sodomy after breaking up with then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed.

  • Released in 2004, he was imprisoned again for sodomy in 2015 while Najib Razak was leading the country.

  • He was released in 2018 after a new alliance with Mahathir, who became prime minister again.

Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim was finally sworn in as prime minister on Thursday after 30 years of political turmoil as a respected guardian, protest leader, two-time sodomy convict and opposition leader. I put an end to my journey.

Anwar, 75, has been ousted as prime minister multiple times despite being on his side over the years. He served as deputy prime minister during his 1990s and was officially prime minister on standby in 2018.

None of the coalitions won a majority, and his appointment ended an unprecedented five-day post-election crisis. King Al-Sultan Abdullah then appointed Anwar after speaking with several members of parliament.

Here’s a closer look at the new Prime Minister, who spent almost ten years of his life in prison.

kicked out and beaten in custody

Anwar sparked as a Muslim youth leader before joining former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which heads the Barisan Nasional coalition of political parties.

Mahathir, who has been Prime Minister since 1981, appointed Anwar as Deputy Prime Minister 12 years later, in addition to his role as Minister of Finance. As a result, Anwar was widely expected to one day succeed Mahathir.

Students hold flags of then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed’s ruling coalition during renewed protests against former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar’s imprisonment in Kuala Lumpur on April 15, 1999. (Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)

But the pair disagreed over how to deal with the Asian financial crisis, and Anwar also questioned corruption in Mahathir-led UMNO, breaking up.

In 1998, Mahathir fired Anwar and launched a crackdown on dissent in the ensuing protests. Anwar was charged with sodomy, a crime in Malaysia.

Mahathir said Anwar was unsuitable to be the leader “because of his personality”.

Anwar showed up at the sodomy trial with a black eye, which became a symbol of the political party he started.

Anwar is shown in a neck brace being run by a supporter on Sept. 3, 2004 in Kuala Lumpur. (Jimin Lai/AFP/Getty Images)

Anwar was released in 2004 but jailed again in 2015 on charges of sodomy and corruption. Anwar’s supporters then blamed the government of then-Prime Minister Najib Razak.

When I defeated Razak in 2018, in a spectacular comeback In the case of Mahathir, who was 92 at the time, Anwar was released again. Mahathir and Anwar had worked out their disagreements politically ahead of the election campaign, and given Mahathir’s age, Anwar was expected to eventually take the reins of leadership.

This February 22, 2020 photo shows then-Prime Minister Mahathir (right) and Anwar in Putrajaya, Malaysia. (Vincent Tian/Associated Press)

“I have forgiven him. He has proven his courage. Why should I hold ill will against him?” Anwar said at the time.

in the meantime, Razak was subsequently imprisoned Billions of dollars of public funds were lost in 1MDB’s massive international scandal.

what’s next

As prime minister, Anwar will have to deal with soaring inflation and slowing growth as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. The most pressing issue is next year’s budget, which was submitted before elections were called but has not yet been passed.

Anwar will also have to negotiate deals with other bloc lawmakers to ensure he maintains majority support in parliament.

James Chai, Visiting Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said: “Mr Anwar was appointed at a key juncture in the history of Malaysia, one of the most politically divided countries in the world, facing a recessionary economy and bitter memories of COVID. I am recovering from.”

Anwar (left) attends the swearing-in ceremony with Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah at Kuala Lumpur’s National Place on Thursday. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images)

Anwar failed to win a majority in the November 19 elections.

Muhyiddin’s camp includes the Islamist party PAS, whose election gains have raised concerns among members of the Chinese and Indian communities, most of whom follow other religions .

Anwar’s supporters expressed hope that his government would prevent a return to historic tensions between ethnic Malays, the Muslim majority, Chinese and Indian minorities.

“All we want is moderation in Malaysia and Anwar represents that,” said a Kuala Lumpur spokeswoman.

Authorities issued a warning last week after voting on social media for rising ethnic tensions, saying short-form video platform TikTok was on high alert for content that violated its guidelines.

Mathahir, 97, loses seat

In an interview with Reuters before the election, Anwar said that if appointed, he would aim to “emphasize governance and anti-corruption, rid the country of racism and religious prejudice”.

The final decision rested with the king. The constitutional monarch has a predominantly ceremonial role, but can appoint a prime minister who he believes has a majority in parliament.

Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir shoved his fist at his supporters in Langkawi on Nov. 5, but at the age of 97, his attempt to maintain political relevance appeared to be over. (Annice Lyn/AFP/Getty Images)

Under Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy, kings are elected from the royal families of the nine states in rotation for five-year terms.

Notably, Masahir ran for Parliament again. Now 97, he finished his fourth out of five contenders in his riding at Langkawi.

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