Asia Minute: Familiar political figure takes leadership role in politically turbulent Malaysia
Anwar Ibrahim has been a high-profile political figure in Malaysia for decades —from a powerful cabinet minister to a prison inmate to an opposition leader. Now he’s Prime Minister.
Thirty years ago, he was Finance Minister —rising to Deputy Prime Minister under long-time ruler Mahathir Mohammed.
But the two had a falling out and Anwar’s political career took a sharp fall.
He wound up in prison for several years on disputed charges of corruption and sodomy. Convictions were later partially overturned.
Amnesty International called him a “prisoner of conscience” and a victim of “political manipulation.”
Anwar became a leader in Malaysia’s opposition and was jailed again in 2015 on a conviction Human Rights Watch called “politically motivated.”
He was eventually pardoned and again became leader of the opposition.
More than a week ago, national elections in Malaysia produced no party with a majority in parliament.
Today, the 75-year-old Anwar is Prime Minister, putting together what he’s calling a “unity cabinet.”
He’s promising political reform and what he calls “a Malaysia for all Malaysians.”
Unity seems a challenging goal as the parliament remains split among various parties.
Anwar says his top priority is not political, but economic, which will “addressing the cost of living.”