For Anwar Ibrahim’s supporters, his appointment as Malaysia’s new prime minister has been a long time coming.
The 75-year-old opposition leader won the Southeast Asian nation’s top job on Thursday after the country’s king intervened in the political stalemate that followed an inconclusive general election on Sunday. last weekend and appointed him as the country’s 10th prime minister.
It was a remarkable return for Anwar, who spent nearly three decades in the opposition, including 10 years in prison for sodomy and corruption that he claimed was politically motivated.
Many Malaysians on Twitter reacted with cheerful skepticism.
“I was at the airport when our 10pm announcement was made,” wrote Twitter user @itsraenu_. “I heard people screaming and saw people laughing from ear to ear.”
Twitter user @CHKen_2 wrote: “Anwar’s revival is something to be inspired by for generations to come. “Waited 24 years to get there, went through all kinds of political backstabbing and even jail time – but never gave up on my principles. Let’s continue to believe.”
A former deputy prime minister, Anwar looked set to take the top job in 1998 before he was sacked from government after falling out with then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad over how to handle the European financial crisis. ASIAN. Anwar was later charged with sodomy – a crime in Malaysia – and corruption. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to defend the charismatic leader and his calls for “reformasi” or reform.
But he was jailed the following year.
Anwar managed to be acquitted of sodomy in 2004 but was jailed again in 2015 on similar charges. After serving a prison sentence in 2018, he orchestrated an opposition coalition and even joined forces with Mahathir, his former adviser but turned enemy, to oust then-Prime Minister Najib Razak amid the backdrop multi-billion dollar corruption scandal at state fund 1MDB.
At the time, Anwar was officially appointed as the pending prime minister but was denied the post as renewed clashes with Mahathir led to the overthrow of their government. Amid the turmoil, Najib’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which voters rejected outright in the 2018 vote, has returned to government, although Najib himself has been rebuffed. was jailed after the first of five trials involving 1MDB.
For Anwar’s supporters, his rise to the top after decades of turmoil is a testament to the power of persistence.
Anwar “taught us to never give up on our dreams,” wrote Twitter user @aidarazman. “Prime Minister at 75? We still have a lot to experience.”
“It’s hard not to be emotional watching this, knowing the challenges he and his family have faced,” wrote @edwardkuruvilla, also posting a photo of Anwar’s swearing-in ceremony. He added: “May your term be a great one.
Many of the new leader’s supporters also mocked Mahathir, who is now 97 years old and is said to have thwarted Anwar’s ambitions. The former prime minister failed to secure his seat in Saturday’s election, not even winning the 12.5% of the votes needed to get back the thousands of Malaysian ringgit he paid as an election deposit. .
Twitter user @_nsyakinah wrote: “God made Mahathir live long enough to see Anwar Ibrahim become Prime Minister of Malaysia. https://twitter.com/_nsyakinah/status/1595739143413280774?s=20&t=_CR3i0FbL_ONm7asCleuQQ
“Don’t forget, Dr Mahathir not only lived to see his deposits wiped out in an election and his sole political aim for the past 30 years, to prevent Anwar Ibrahim from becoming Prime Minister, It finally happened… that as a former prime minister he will also be invited to Anwar’s swearing-in ceremony,” tweeted Twitter user @amirulruslan.
“What a year,” wrote @mhmgrgie. “Najib went to jail. Mahathir lost his deposit and now Anwar is the Prime Minister. History would be an understatement…”
Anwar’s supporters also took a moment to pay tribute to his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, whom they say is credited with helping him advance.
Twitter user @JustinTWJ has described the 69-year-old as the “Mother of Reform”, noting her role in leading Anwar’s Reform movement after his imprisonment and her role in lobbying the coalition to oust Najib. “I can’t imagine the strength she has to do it all.”
Twitter user @tsimitha wrote: “This incredible woman is at the heart of the Reformation movement made it today! Women are born leaders!”
For his part, Anwar said on Twitter that he would take on the duties entrusted to him with “maximum humility”.
He added: “Without your support and efforts, we would not have been able to achieve this today.