Anwar Ibrahim’s hard-to-believe journey from prisoner to new Malaysian prime minister

Anwar Ibrahim's hard-to-believe journey from prisoner to new Malaysian prime minister


  • Malaysia’s present monarch swore in Anwar Ibrahim as PM on Thursday.

  • Ibrahim, 75, had been deputy PM and finance minister for a lot of the Nineteen Nineties.

  • Was imprisoned in 1998 on sodomy fees after break up with then-PM Mahathir Mohamed.

  • Launched in 2004, was once more imprisoned for sodomy in 2015 as Najib Razak led nation.

  • Was launched in 2018 after a renewed alliance with Mahathir, who once more grew to become PM.


Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim was lastly sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, capping a three-decade political journey that has seen him forged as esteemed protege, protest chief, prisoner twice convicted of sodomy and opposition chief.

The 75-year-old Anwar has repeatedly been denied the premiership regardless of getting inside placing distance through the years: he was deputy prime minister within the Nineteen Nineties and the official prime minister-in-waiting in 2018.

His appointment ends 5 days of unprecedented post-election disaster after no coalitions earned a majority. King Al-Sultan Abdullah then appointed Anwar after talking to a number of lawmakers.

Here is a better have a look at the brand new prime minister, who has spent a few decade of his life in jail.

Forged out, crushed in custody

Anwar began off as a firebrand Islamic youth chief earlier than becoming a member of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamed’s United Malays Nationwide Organisation (UMNO), which leads the Barisan Nasional alliance of political events.

Mahathir, prime minister since 1981, made Anwar his deputy a dozen years later, along with his current position as finance minister. Consequently, Anwar was extensively anticipated to in the future succeed Mahathir.

College students holding the burning banner of then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamed’s ruling coalition are proven in Kuala Lumpur on April 15, 1999, throughout recent protests over the jailing of former deputy premier Anwar. (Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Pictures)

However the pair fell out after disagreeing over deal with the Asian monetary disaster, with Anwar additionally questioning corruption within the Mahathir-led UMNO.

In 1998, Mahathir fired Anwar and, amid the following protests, launched a crackdown on dissent. Anwar was charged with sodomy, against the law in Malaysia, a transfer he stated aimed to place an finish to his political profession.

Anwar was unfit to guide “due to his character,” Mahathir stated.

Anwar appeared at his sodomy trial with a black eye, which then grew to become the image of the political social gathering he began. Later, the police chief on the time admitted to having assaulted Anwar in jail.

Anwar is proven in a neck brace being wheeled by aids in Kuala Lumpur on Sept. 3, 2004. (Jimin Lai/AFP/Getty Pictures)

Anwar was freed in 2004, solely to be jailed once more for sodomy and corruption fees in 2015, two years after main the opposition to its finest electoral efficiency till then. On that event, Anwar’s supporters positioned blame on the federal government of then-prime minister Najib Razak.

When Razak was defeated in 2018, in a outstanding comeback for then-92-year-old Mahathir, Anwar was freed once more. Mahathir and Anwar had patched up their variations forward of the marketing campaign politically, and it was anticipated that Anwar would finally take the management reins, given Mahathir’s age.

On this Feb. 22, 2020, photograph, then-prime minister Mahathir, proper, and Anwar, are proven in Putrajaya, Malaysia, throughout a interval of rapprochement between the pair. (Vincent Thian/The Related Press)

“I’ve forgiven him, he has proved his mettle. Why ought to I harbour any malice in the direction of him?” Anwar stated on the time.

In the meantime, Razak has since been imprisoned within the huge, worldwide 1MDB scandal, wherein billions in public cash went lacking.

What comes subsequent

As premier, Anwar should deal with hovering inflation and slowing development because the financial system recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Essentially the most speedy situation would be the funds for subsequent 12 months, which was tabled earlier than the election was known as however has but to be handed.

Anwar can even have to barter agreements with lawmakers from different blocs to make sure he can retain majority help in parliament.

“Anwar is appointed at a vital juncture in Malaysian historical past, the place politics is most fractured, recovering from a depressed financial system and a bitter COVID reminiscence,” stated James Chai, visiting fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

Anwar, left, takes half within the swearing-in ceremony Thursday on the Nationwide Place in Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Pictures)

Anwar didn’t win a majority within the Nov. 19 election, and standing in his method might be the chief of the largely conservative ethnic-Malay, Muslim alliance that garnered the second-most seats, Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin’s bloc contains the Islamist social gathering PAS, whose electoral features raised concern amongst members of the ethnic Chinese language and ethnic Indian communities, most of whom observe different faiths.

Anwar’s supporters expressed hope that his authorities would head off a return to historic pressure between the ethnic Malay, Muslim majority and ethnic Chinese language and Indian minorities.

“All we would like is moderation for Malaysia and Anwar represents that,” stated a communications supervisor in Kuala Lumpur, who requested to be recognized by her surname Tang.

Authorities warned after final week’s vote of an increase in ethnic pressure on social media and brief video platform TikTok stated it was on excessive alert for content material that violated its pointers.

Mathahir, 97, loses seat

Anwar informed Reuters in an interview earlier than the election that he would search “to emphasise governance and anti-corruption, and rid this nation of racism and spiritual bigotry” if appointed.

The choice ultimately got here all the way down to the king. The constitutional monarch performs a largely ceremonial position however can appoint a premier he believes will command a majority in parliament.

Former Malaysia prime minister Mahathir offers a fist bump to a supporter on Nov. 5 in Langkawi, however his bid to stay politically related at 97 seems to be over. (Annice Lyn/AFP/Getty Pictures)

Malaysia has a novel constitutional monarchy wherein kings are chosen in flip from the royal households of 9 states to reign for a five-year time period.

Mathahir, it must be famous, ran for a parliamentary seat once more. Now 97, he completed fourth out of 5 candidates within the Langkawi driving.