KOMPAS.com - The king of Malaysia had approved opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister, according to a statement from Malaysia's royal palace on Thursday, Nov. 24.
The appointment, the highlight of a roller-coaster political career, brings to an end five days of unprecedented post-election confusion after the polls delivered no obvious winner.
What we know so far
Running on an anti-corruption platform, Anwar's Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition garnered the most seats, 82. However, that was well short of the required 112-seat majority.
Former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's rightist Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance) grouping managed 73 seats. However, even with the backing of an Islamist party, Muhyiddin said his political bloc did not have enough seats.
The stalemate was resolved after the coalition led by Muhyiddin's Malaysian United Indigenous Party, also known as Bersatu, agreed to be part of a unity government under Anwar.
"After taking into consideration the views of Their Royal Highnesses the Malay Rulers, His Majesty has given consent to appoint Anwar Ibrahim as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia," the royal statement said.
The coalition led by Anwar is a multi-ethnic one with a more progressive agenda than Muhyiddin's, which reflects more conservative ethnic Malay and Muslim views. Many rural Muslim Malays fear that greater pluralism under Anwar means they may lose their privileges.
Malaysia's long-ruling Barisan Nasional bloc — which dominated the country's politics since independence in 1957 — won only 30 seats, representing that coalition's worst polling performance.
Who is Anwar Ibrahim?
The 75-year-old reformist Anwar has been on the brink of taking power twice. He founded an Islamic youth movement. He was arrested in the 1970s during student protests against rural poverty and hunger and later imprisoned.
In 1981, he was recruited into the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), Malaysia's "Grand Old Party" and Barisan's most dominant member.
He rose to become deputy prime minister and finance minister in the 1990s and was groomed to take over from then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
However, Anwar was fired in September 1998 amid division over Malaysia's reaction to the Asian economic crisis. He was detained without trial and then charged with sodomy and corruption. Anwar said the charges were politically motivated and Amnesty called him a prisoner of conscience.
Malaysia's top court overturned Anwar's sodomy conviction in 2004, a year after Mahathir stepped down as prime minister after more than two decades in power.
Anwar formed a rival coalition to the UMNO-led Barisan government, which was gaining ground until he was imprisoned a second time for sodomy.
He did not give up and made peace with Mahathir, who came out of retirement in 2018 to challenge incumbent Najib Razak, who was embroiled in the billion-dollar 1MDB financial scandal.
Mahathir became prime minister for the second time in 2018, spectacularly toppling the UMNO-led alliance. Anwar was pardoned and there was an agreement to hand over the premiership to him later. However, Mahathir did not fulfill that pact, and Anwar was denied power again.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin's National Alliance bloc, which had been supporting the government, teamed up with the UMNO to take power in a fractious government.
Muhyiddin resigned after 17 months amid internal rivalries and the king chose UMNO leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who called the latest election, as prime minister in 2021.
Sources: AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa, DW
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