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Friday, December 2, 2022

Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim Appointed New PM after Inconclusive Polls

Anwar’s multi-ethnic coalition with multiple progressives is known as Pakatan Harapan

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MALAYSIA. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s monarch appointed long-term, veteran opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister on Thursday, and he is due to be sworn in at 5 p.m. (0900 GMT), after nearly five days of unpredictable post-election crisis and inconclusive polls.

Anwar’s appointment marks the end of a tumultuous three-decade long political history following a series of wild adventures, from being a protégé of veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad to being a convicted prisoner, charged on accounts of sodomy, to being an opposition leader, and now finally a prime minister.

Saturday’s election ended on a confusing note when neither of the two political alliances—one led by Anwar and the other by his rival and former premier Muhyiddin Yassin—were able to secure enough seats in the parliament to form a government.

The 75-year-old politician had a close brush with the premiership post for years without coming close to it; he was deputy PM in the 1990s and the official prime minister-in-waiting in 2018.

His political career is tainted by the scandalising charges and jail time for sodomy (which is much shamed in Malaysian culture) and corruption, which he said were false allegations to jeopardise his successful career.

Malaysia was facing an election crisis with neither of the two alliances being able to secure a clear majority in the parliament, making one of the most influential countries in Southeast Asia in a severely vulnerable position.

The uncertainty of the polls meant the political instability of the country, which has seen three PMs in as many years, is growing deeper, delaying crucial decisions of policies urgently required to enable economic growth.

Anwar’s multi-ethnic coalition with multiple progressives is known as Pakatan Harapan, which won the most seats in Saturday’s vote with 82, while Muhyiddin’s conservative bloc, Perikatan Nasional, won only 73. They need a simple majority of 112 to form a government.

Another bloc, the long-ruling Barisan, managed to secure only 30 seats—the worst electoral performance that has dominated Malaysia since its independence in 1957.

Barisan said on Thursday it would not support a government led by Muhyiddin, though it did not make any reference to Anwar.

Following the intense security around the polls, which involved ethnic tensions in the streets and prompted police to set up 24-hour security checkpoints across the region, the responsibility fell on King Al-Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah to announce the prime minister after both Anwar and Muhyiddin missed his Tuesday deadline to put together an alliance.

The constitutional monarch plays a largely ceremonial role but can appoint a premier he believes will command a majority in parliament.

As premier, the people are looking to Anwar to address the issue of rising inflation and slow economic growth while calming ethnic conflicts and negotiating deals with lawmakers from other blocs so that he retains majority support in the parliament to ratify bills and policies.

Also Read: Malaysia Election: Tight Race Indicates Hung Parliament for First Time Ever

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