Malaysia’s Anwar Becomes Prime Minister, Ending Decades of Waiting

KUALA LUMPUR—Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, from a protégé of veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad to a convicted homosexual convict and opposition leader of the protest movement. concluded its 30-year political journey.

His appointment ends an unprecedented five-day post-election crisis but ushers in a new wave of instability with his rival, former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, to prove a parliamentary majority. There is a possibility of challenging him.

The constitutional monarch, King Al-Sultan Abdullah, appointed Anwar after speaking with several lawmakers, although neither of them won a majority in Saturday’s elections.

Anwar Ibrahim and the King and Queen
King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah of Malaysia (second from left), Queen Aziza Aminar Maimna of Malaysia (second from right), Malaysia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (left) with his wife Wan Aziza Wan Ismail poses after the swearing-in ceremony at the National Palace. November 24, 2022 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Mohd Rasfan/Pool via Reuters)

Anwar will take over the government in difficult times. The economy is slowing and the country is divided after a tough election that pitted Mr Muhyiddin against his mostly conservative Malay-Muslim alliance against Mr Anwar’s progressive coalition.

Once the political deadlock ended, markets soared. The ringgit currency hits a two-week high and the stock gains 3%.

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

In the meantime, he spent nearly a decade in prison on sodomy and corruption charges, a politically motivated charge to end his career, he says.

Uncertainty over elections threatens to prolong political instability in the Southeast Asian nation, which has had three prime ministers for years, and risks delaying policy decisions needed to spur economic recovery. there is.

Anwar’s supporters prevent his government from restoring historic tensions between majority Malays, majority Muslims, majority Chinese and minority Indo-Indians. expressed hope to do so.

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

His coalition, known as Pakatan Harapan, won the most seats in Saturday’s vote with 82 seats, while Muhyiddin’s Pelikatan Nacional bloc won 73 seats.

The long-term ruling Barisan camp won just 30 seats, the worst election result for a coalition that has dominated politics since independence in 1957.

Barisan said on Thursday that he does not support the Muhyiddin-led government, but did not mention Anwar.

After Anwar’s appointment, Muhyiddin asked Anwar to prove his majority in parliament.

Police step up security

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 .

Officials have warned of rising ethnic tensions on social media after the weekend’s vote, and said short-video platform TikTok is on high alert for content that violates its guidelines.

Police have instructed social media users to refrain from posting “provocative” posts and said they are setting up 24-hour checkpoints on roads across the country to ensure public peace and safety.

The decision on the prime minister fell to King Al-Sultan Abdullah after both Anwar and Muhyiddin failed to meet Tuesday afternoon deadlines to put together a ruling alliance.

The constitutional monarch has a predominantly ceremonial role, but can appoint a prime minister who he believes has a majority in parliament.

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

As prime minister, Anwar will have to deal with soaring inflation and slowing growth while de-escalating ethnic tensions 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.