Sunday, November 27

Anwar Ibrahim, Prime Minister of Malaysia after 25 years of waiting

After five days of blockade, Anwar Ibrahim was appointed Prime Minister of Malaysia yesterday. For him, a tense wait of not only five days, but 25 years, came to an end, the ones he has been waiting to seize power in this Southeast Asian country. The broad coalition led by his party, Pakatan Harapan (PH), won Saturday’s elections with 82 deputies, but fell far short of the 112 needed for the majority. With 73 seats, it was on the heels of the ruling coalition, Perikatan Nasional (PN), which toyed with the possibility of reaching agreements with other parties. Like heads or tails, the coin could have gone either way when Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah proposed a unity government. But Muyhiddin Yassin, Anwar’s rival, rejected the proposal, a move that he played against him. For Anwar Ibrahim, 75, a quarter-century journey ends, and an even more difficult one begins. Considered one of the most brilliant politicians in Southeast Asia, in 1982 he joined the party that had held power in Malaysia since its independence from the British in 1957: the National Organization for Malayan Unity (UNMO), which led the coalition of the Front National (Barisan National). In this formation he rose to become in 1993 deputy prime minister and head of the economy of the government led by the veteran Mahathir Mohamad, who anointed him as his successor. But his differences over how to deal with the 1997 Asian financial crisis cracked their union, and in 1998, Mahathir ousted Anwar for corruption and abuse of power amid citizen protests. In an accusation that he always defined as political vendetta, Anwar fell out of favor when one of his aides denounced that he had raped him and ended up in prison for sodomy, a crime in Muslim Malaysia. Although the sentence was annulled in 2004, another of his assistants denounced him again for the same thing in 2008, when he was leading the opposition. Due to lack of evidence, the judge acquitted him in 2012, but the Court of Appeal reopened the case two years later. In 2015 he was again sentenced to five years for sodomy. The King’s pardon In separate interviews with ABC when he was released, in 2010 and 2014, he always denied the charges. “It’s just a government strategy so that I can’t stand in the elections,” explained Anwar, a moderate and reformist Muslim. While still in jail, his party won the 2018 election in a new coalition formed alongside his mentor and later enemy, Mahathir Mohamad. Despite their rivalry, the two teamed up to bring down the ruling party over the corruption scandal of the state investment fund 1MBD, from which 4 billion euros disappeared and for which Prime Minister Najib Razak was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2020. After the electoral victory, the King of Malaysia pardoned Anwar, who joined Mahathir in the Government with the promise that he would relieve him after two years because he was already in his nineties. But that coalition fell apart again before the succession and Anwar was back in opposition in May 2020 . Two and a half years later, and after a long wait of a quarter of a century and two imprisonments, he is the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *