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Anwar of Malaysia starts working with promising comprehensive government | Election News


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Anwar Ibrahim has started as prime minister of Malaysia after promising to lead an inclusive government in this multi-ethnic, multi-religious Southeast Asian country.

Anwar arrived at 9am (01:00 GMT) at the prime minister’s office in the country’s administrative capital Putrajaya on Friday, after sworn in by the king Yesterday.

In his first press conference on Thursday night, the 75-year-old veteran politician outlined his plans for the country.

He said he would not withdraw his salary and that his government would “ensure and protect the rights of all Malaysians, especially the disadvantaged and the impoverished, regardless of race or religion “.

He also stressed the importance of reform.

“We will never compromise on good governance, anti-corruption efforts, judicial independence and the welfare of ordinary Malaysians,” he said at the late-night event.

Anwar was appointed prime minister by the king after last Saturday’s inconclusive elections gave his Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition the most seats but lacked the majority needed to rule. PH will run the country in alliance with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), the main party in Sarawak state in Malaysian Borneo, and Barisan Nasional (BN), the coalition that dominated Malaysian politics until 2018 when for the first time lost power amid a multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB.

Early on Thursday night’s press conference, Anwar received a congratulatory phone call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after sharing a video on social media of him chatting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the leader First foreign leader to send greetings. Anwar described Indonesia as Malaysia’s “true friend” and said he would focus on strengthening ties between the two countries.

Anwar in traditional black Malay dress with songkok (black hat) points as microphones from various networks are pushed towards him
Anwar raised questions at a late-night press conference on Thursday, where he outlined plans for his administration. [Vincent Thian//Pool via Reuters]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also congratulated Anwar and the people of Malaysia, and recorded a record number of votes in the election,

“We look forward to deepening friendship and cooperation based on shared democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Blinken said. “We remain committed to working with Malaysia to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific that is connected, prosperous, secure and resilient.”

‘Convince the majority’

Anwar was appointed prime minister important political journey to a man born in the northern state of Penang in 1947. After making his mark as a student firebrand activist, young Anwar was drawn into the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) ), the dominant party in the then-ruling BN coalition, where he rose rapidly through the ranks.

His shocking dismissal in 1998 and subsequent imprisonment for corruption and regime rule incited Malaysia’s political opposition, spurring calls for reform – known as ‘reformasi’ ‘ – and contributed to the gradual reorganization of the country’s politics. Anwar endured a second sodomy trial and conviction before being pardoned in 2018 and released from prison.

James Chai, a visiting fellow in the Malaysian Studies program at Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, said: “Only a man like Anwar can embody Malaysia’s contradictions and take the country to the next level. a new page in history. “Many would argue that he is exactly what the country needs. The Reform generation can breathe a sigh of relief after years of despair.”

Anwar’s PH government was the second government of the reform coalition after its last government collapsed after being pushed back by ethnic Malay conservatives after just 22 months. The country was in a unrest since then with two prime ministers for many years.

Anwar seems keen to draw a line under political lobbying and says a vote of confidence to show the strength of the new coalition will be first on the agenda when parliament first meets. on December 19th.

“We have a really convincing majority,” he said.

Just before Anwar was sworn in on Thursday afternoon, former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin called on Anwar to “prove” his majority, claiming without proof that his PN coalition enjoys much support. best.

The conservative coalition received the second most votes in the election with PAS, Malaysia’s Islamist party, gaining the most seats among its members and emerging as the largest party in parliament.

Muhyiddin looked serious, accompanied by leaders of other parties in his coalition, including Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS
PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin (centre) challenged Anwar to ‘prove’ his majority in a press conference shortly before Anwar was sworn in. Anwar then said a vote of confidence would be first on the agenda when parliament sits next month. [Arif Kartono/AFP]

Muhyiddin himself, who was in BN and was a member of the PH government in 2018, was appointed prime minister by the king in 2020 after a power struggle within the PH coalition led to its downfall.

He did not hold a parliamentary vote after his appointment and sought to suspend parliament. He lasted only 17 months before being deposed by disgruntled members of UMNO and replaced by Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Ismail Sabri held the post for just over a year before holding elections this November.

building trust

To ensure the longevity of his administration, analysts say it is important for Anwar to learn the lessons of the PH government first and build trust.

“A lot will depend on who he appoints to his cabinet and whether they can work together,” said Bridget Welsh. “There are many lessons to be learned from the first Pakatan Harapan government in terms of trust building, expectations management and communication. These are the things that will be challenging in the future.”

Anwar has previously said he would reduce the size of the cabinet, which has grown to nearly 70 ministers and deputy ministers in recent years. Welsh said it is important that the appointees are competent and experienced in the challenges facing Malaysia, while also reflecting the socioeconomic realities and the young population of Malaysia.

The country is predominantly Muslim Malay and Islam is the official religion but has a significant minority of Chinese and Indians, as well as indigenous people.

Race and religion have long been sensitive issues in the country and Tensions arose during the two-week election campaignPolice this week warned Malaysians against posting “provocative” content.

Jerald Joseph, a Malaysian human rights commissioner until earlier this year and a longtime campaigner for democracy, said he welcomed the potential for Malaysia to open a new chapter, noting that many of the recent reforms, such as lowering the voting age and automation. voter registration, which started under PH in 2018.

The new prime minister should focus on parliamentary reform, he added, including ensuring the appointment of a neutral spokesman and empowering expert committees.

“Anwar has to prove himself like any other prime minister,” Joseph told Al Jazeera. “He has to carry out reforms. He has to make administration work.

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