World: Malaysia's new PM Anwar: from prison to power, a dream fulfilled

Time running out as Malaysia's Anwar fights for top job

  Time running out as Malaysia's Anwar fights for top job Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's perennial opposition leader, has often been on the cusp of power but age is catching up with him and Saturday's election could be his last chance to win the top job. Anwar returned to parliament months later after winning a by-election. -Fragile alliance-Anwar allied with Mahathir during the 2018 elections when his erstwhile tormentor came out of retirement to challenge incumbent Najib Razak, who was mired in the billion-dollar 1MDB financial scandal.Their alliance scored a historic victory against UMNO and Najib, who is serving a 12-year jail term for corruption.

It has been a bumpy road to the pinnacle of power for Anwar Ibrahim, who on Thursday achieved his dream of the Malaysian premiership.

In his decades-long quest for the top job, the 75-year-old has tasted political triumph and defeat, led street protests for democratic reforms and strung together a multi-ethnic opposition coalition while behind bars.

He was named prime minister by Malaysia's king after days of political deadlock resulting from an inconclusive election.

- Impatient firebrand -

Anwar was born into a political family in August 1947.

His father, Ibrahim Abdul Rahman, was a former member of parliament and his mother, Che Yan Hussein, was a political organiser in the northern state of Penang, in what was then part of the British empire.

Opposition leader Anwar named next Malaysia PM

  Opposition leader Anwar named next Malaysia PM Malaysia's perennial opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was named prime minister on Thursday, ending a days-long political impasse after inconclusive election results. Mahathir became prime minister for the second time, with an agreement to hand over the premiership to Anwar later. He never fulfilled that pact, and their alliance collapsed after 22 months."This is a long time coming for Anwar Ibrahim," Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, deputy managing director at strategic advisory firm Bower Group Asia, told AFP."One of his agendas is to ensure he is able to fulfil his reform agenda as he looks to stabilise a loosely cobbled federal coalition.

A firebrand youth activist during his student days, Anwar has spoken of his admiration for Philippine revolutionary hero Jose Rizal, describing him as "a true Asian renaissance man".

In 1982, Anwar was recruited into the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the party then in the middle of its 60-year domination of Malaysian politics.

His star rose, and the suave young politician became finance minister and then deputy prime minister in the early 1990s under then-premier Mahathir Mohamad, bringing a youthful counterbalance to the wily political veteran.

They were considered one of the most dynamic duos in Southeast Asian politics, but their relationship soured over how to handle the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

Malaysia faces first hung parliament as support for Islamic alliance surges

  Malaysia faces first hung parliament as support for Islamic alliance surges A cobbled-together coalition, which includes a party supportive of sharia law, is on the cards after tumultuous election results.Alliance leaders Muhyiddin Yassin and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim have failed after three days of frantic talks to get the numbers to form government. Now the decision rests with King Al-Sultan Abdullah, who suggested yesterday the two alliances vying for power should form a “unity government”.

Some observers say Anwar had been too impatient to become prime minister, slighting his patron.

Mahathir sacked Anwar, who was also expelled from UMNO and charged with corruption and sodomy.

He was sentenced to six years in jail for corruption in 1999, with a nine-year prison term added for the sodomy charge the following year, the two sentences to run consecutively.

As Anwar claimed political persecution, street protests erupted and coalesced into a multi-ethnic opposition movement calling for democratic reforms.

Photos of Anwar with a black eye, inflicted in prison by Malaysia's then-police chief, were published in newspapers around the world, turning him into a symbol for a struggle that adopted the battle cry of "Reformasi!", or reforms.

-Despair and hope-

The Malaysian Supreme Court overturned Anwar's sodomy conviction in 2004 and ordered him freed.

He took a brief hiatus from politics to go into academia, but returned to lead an opposition coalition in the 2013 general election.

Malaysia ruling coalition loses ground to rivals: Early results

  Malaysia ruling coalition loses ground to rivals: Early results The ruling coalition trailing behind opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s coalition and alliance led by ex-PM Muhyiddin.Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition – which is dominated by his United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party – suffered upsets in several seats in an apparent swing of support to Muhyiddin’s Malay-based Perikatan Nasional, or National Alliance.

His alliance won 50.87 percent of the popular vote but failed to muster a parliamentary majority.

Controversy continued to hound the married father of six.

He was again jailed for sodomy in 2015, this time for five years.

He has maintained his innocence and received a full pardon from the Malaysian king three years into his sentence. Anwar returned to parliament months later in a by-election.

-Fragile alliance-

The 2018 election brought a new alliance with his erstwhile rival Mahathir, the pair making an unlikely reunion to take on their former party UMNO, led by prime minister Najib Razak, then mired in the billion-dollar 1MDB financial scandal.

They scored a historic victory against UMNO and Najib, who is now serving a 12-year jail term for corruption.

Mahathir became prime minister for the second time, with an agreement to hand over the premiership to Anwar later.

He never fulfilled that pact, and their alliance collapsed after 22 months.

"I sense the people's strong desire for change and to see Malaysia progress in a new direction," Anwar said before last week's polls.

After his swearing-in Thursday, Anwar will finally get to set that direction.

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