Long-time reformist Anwar sworn in as Malaysia’s PM

Kuala Lumpur (TIP): Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as prime minister on November 24, capping a three-decade political journey from a protege of veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad to protest leader, a prisoner convicted of sodomy and opposition leader. Anwar vowed to fight corruption and focus on the economy, as well as promising to uphold Islam as the official religion of the multi-ethnic country and also special rights of ethnic Malays. “Thank God, because we have seen a change that has awaited the people of Malaysia,” he told reporters at a late-evening address, hours after he was sworn in by the constitutional monarch who appointed him after an inconclusive election.

His appointment ends five days of unprecedented post-election crisis, but could usher in a new instability with his rival, former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, challenging him to prove his majority in Parliament.

Both men failed to win a majority in elections, but the constitutional monarch, King Al-Sultan Abdullah, appointed Anwar after speaking to several lawmakers.

Anwar takes over at a challenging time: the economy is slowing and the country is divided after a tight election that pitted Anwar’s progressive coalition against Muhyiddin’s mostly conservative ethnic-Malay, Muslim alliance.

The 75-year-old Anwar had time and again been denied the premiership despite getting within striking distance over the years: he was deputy prime minister in the 1990s and the official prime minister-in-waiting in 2018.

In between, he spent nearly a decade in jail for sodomy and corruption in what he says were politically motivated charges aimed at ending his career. The uncertainty over the election threatened to prolong political instability in the Southeast Asian country, which has had three prime ministers in as many years, and risks delaying policy decisions needed to foster economic recovery.

Anwar’s supporters expressed hope that his government would head off a return to historic tension between the ethnic Malay, Muslim majority and ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities in the country. His coalition, PakatanHarapan, won the most seats in vote with 82, while Muhyiddin’sPerikatanNasional bloc won 73. They needed 112, a simple majority, to form a government. — Reuters


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