Anwar Ibrahim completes remarkable comeback as he sworn in as PM of Malaysia

 Anwar Ibrahim spent 30 years in opposition including 10 years in prison before electing to the highest office in Malaysia

The 75-year-old opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has taken oath of Prime Minister of Malaysia. Who thought that one day Anwar Ibrahim will lead Malaysia after being sentenced on sodomy charges and thrown out of the ruling party. He was considered as the heir of then Prime Minister Muhatir Muhammad but he fell out with his mentor. He spend nearly 30 years in political wilderness including 10 years in prison.  But he made strong comeback and becomes prime minister of Malaysia.

The King of Malaysia invited Anwar Ibrahim to form the government. Anwar Ibrahim won the support of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), the main party in the state of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo, and Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to form the government. Anwar Ibrahim led coalition government now has the support of nearly 147 members of parliament.

Anwar Ibrahim waited 24 years for this moment. His PH coalition emerged as the largest party in Malaysian general elections held on November 19. His party won 82 seats but failed to win 112 seats needed to form the government.

 It was a remarkable comeback for Anwar, who has spent nearly three decades in the opposition, including 10 years in prison on sodomy and corruption charges that he claims was politically motivated.

Anwar Ibrahim secured the Southeast Asian country’s top job on Thursday after its king intervened in the political impasse that followed last weekend’s inconclusive general election and named him the country’s 10th prime minister.

A former deputy prime minister, Anwar looked set to take the top job in 1998 before he was sacked from the government after falling out with then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad over his handling of the Asian financial crisis. Anwar was then accused of sodomy and corruption. He was very popular when he was sacked and then sent to the prison.

Anwar managed to secure an acquittal on the sodomy charge in 2004 but was jailed again in 2015 on similar allegations. From jail in 2018, he coordinated an opposition alliance and even joined forces with his former mentor-turned-foe Mahathir to topple then-Prime Minister Najib Razak amid the multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at state fund 1MDB.

At the time, Anwar was named the official prime minister-in-waiting but was again denied the post when renewed clashes with Mahathir brought down their government. Amid the instability, Najib’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which voters had roundly rejected in the 2018 vote, returned to government, although Najib himself was jailed after the first of five trials linked to 1MDB.

Many of the new leader’s supporters also poked fun at Mahathir, who is now 97 and is blamed for thwarting Anwar’s ambitions. The former prime minister failed to defend his seat in Saturday’s election, failing to win even the 12.5 percent of votes required to get back the thousands of Malaysian ringgit he paid as an electoral deposit.

Anwar Ibrahim has promised to lead a government inclusive of everyone in the multiethnic, multireligious Southeast Asian nation.

At his first press conference on Thursday night, the 75-year-old veteran politician sketched out his plans for the country.

He said he would not draw a salary and that his government would “guarantee and safeguard the rights of all Malaysians, especially the marginalized and impoverished, regardless of race or religion”.

 “We will never compromise on good governance, the anti-corruption drive, judicial independence and the welfare of ordinary Malaysians,” he said at the late-night event.

                                                                   Khalid Bhatti 

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