Anwar’s appointment as prime minister on Thursday halted Malaysia’s chaotic election season that saw the downfall of the political giant. Mahathir Mohamadthe windfall gains of a far-right Islamist party and the endless infighting between supposed allies, caused in large part condemnation of the former prime minister Najib Razak, on charges including money laundering and abuse of power.
“This is a unity government,” Anwar said Thursday night at his first press conference as prime minister. Alternating between Malay and English, he vowed to root out the corruption that has stained Malaysian politics in recent years and expressed gratitude to supporters who have stood by him for decades.
“We will support the rights of all citizens,” he said. “We would like all citizens to work with us.”
Earlier today, the King of Malaysia announced that he had approved the appointment of the veteran politician as the country’s 10th Prime Minister. In Malaysia, which is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy, the head of government is formally appointed by the king.
the moment It marks the dramatic return of Anwar, 75, an internationally known figure whose political rise, fall and comeback has spanned generations. Now he faces the daunting task of leading a country of 32.5 million people as it grapples with a divided electorate, a global economic slowdown and intensifying geopolitical tensions in Southeast Asia. between China and the United States.
Anwar founded the country’s reformist political movement, which since the 1990s has rallied for social justice and equality. He is also known as an advocate of Islamic democracy, and has expressed his admiration for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was once seen as a moderate democrat. Islam is the state religion in Muslim-majority Malaysia, but other religions are widely practiced.
Former deputy prime minister under Mahathir, who was later considered his arch-rival before reconciliation, Anwar sought for decades to reach the highest political office in the country. He also served two long prison terms for sodomy and corruption – convictions that Raslan says are politically motivated.
Upon leaving his press conference, Anwar chanted a slogan that has been a rallying cry throughout his political career. “Lawan Sambay Minang!” He shouted before his supporters attacked him. View until you win.
Anwar’s multi-ethnic reformist coalition, the Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, won 82 seats after last week’s election. The coalition was the largest single bloc, but still dozens of seats shy of the 112 it needed to form a majority. She raced against Prekatan Nasional (PN), a right-wing coalition that won 73 seats, to convince voters — as well as the country’s king, Sultan Abdullah of Pahang — that she had a mandate to form the next government.
The new prime minister said his tenure was made possible by the support of two major groups, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, a regional alliance that won 23 seats, and Barisan Nasional, a conservative coalition that has ruled Malaysia for most of its post-independence history. Barisan Nasional, which said on Thursday it would not take part in a PNP-led government, won 30 seats in the latest polls, putting it in the kingmaking position.
Analysts say that while Anwar may have proved a victor, he is now tasked with winning the trust of a growing conservative Muslim community that he considers too liberal. He has campaigned on promises to clean up the government and create a more equal society, but he may find himself constrained by the parties with which he is allied to govern.
Anwar opposes affirmative action policies based on race which were a hallmark of previous governments led by the Patriotic Barisan. Some analysts credit the policies, which favor Malay Muslims, with creating a broad-based middle class in Malaysia. But critics blame the laws for stoking racial hostility, driving young people from Malaysia’s Indian and Chinese minorities out of the country, and causing systemic corruption.
In the run-up to the election, NWP leader and former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin made an antisemitic claim that Anwar’s coalition was working with Jews and Christians to “ChristianizationMalaysia. Anwar criticized his rival’s statements as desperate, in response by saying that Mohiuddin was trying to “use ethnic propaganda to divide the pluralistic reality in Malaysia”.
After announcing the appointment of Anwar Mohieldin Hold a press conference He questioned his opponent’s authority to rule. Anwar said Thursday evening that he would welcome the police to work with his coalition, but it was not immediately clear if Muhyiddin planned to accept the invitation.
“polarization [in Malaysia] It’s still going strong,” said Bridget Welsh, research associate at the University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute in Malaysia.
Regardless of whether they support him or not, many Malaysians welcomed the appointment of a new prime minister, which allowed them to put a pin through two years of political turmoil that included the resignation of two prime ministers, allegations of a power grab and snap elections. during the tropics Monsoon season in the country.
After the polls closed and it became clear that no single bloc could lead the majority on its own, confusion spread over who would lead. The king summoned the party leaders to the palace for closed discussions, retracting his decision from day to day.
“We’ve been waiting for some stabilization, for the restoration of democracy, for some time,” said Adrian Pereira, a labor rights activist from the western state of Selangor. Voters are still anxious to see how power is shared, he said, “but for now, it’s kind of a relief for everyone.”
Among the biggest surprises in the election was the surge in support for the Malaysian Islamic Party, better known as PAS, which more than doubled its number of seats in parliament, from 18 to 49.And the He advocates for final Islamic rule in Malaysia and has emerged as a power broker in recent years, forming partnerships with other parties that support pro-Malay Muslim policies.
During Anwar’s coalition, PAS will be the largest single party in the lower house of Parliament.
And before Anwar took the oath, on Thursday evening, the leader of the Malaysian Islamic Party, Abdul Hadi Awang Post a statement Thank voters for their support. He said that “the party’s 71 years of struggle in Malaysia is increasingly being accepted by the people”.
James Chen, a professor at the Australian University of Tasmania who studies Malaysian politics, said he was “surprised” by the electoral success of the PAS, which he sees as a reflection of a broader rise of political Islam in Malaysia.
Chen said that while Malaysia and neighboring Indonesia have long described themselves as moderate Islamic countries, this may now change. He noted that PAS has made its strongest gains in rural areas, and there is early evidence that it is gaining the support of new voters, including young Malays. Liberal and non-Malay Muslim voters now fear that the powerful PAS is in a position to expand its influence, including on education policies in the country.
“I knew that PAS had a lot of support in the Malay heartland … but I still didn’t know that they could expand so quickly,” Chen said. “Nobody did.”
Deng reported from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Ang from Seoul. Harry Raj in Seoul contributed to this report.