The Malaysian opposition leader Anwer Ibrahim has claimed to have majority in the parliament to become Prime Minister. He is trying his luck once more for the coveted post of PM. It will become clear in next couple of weeks whether his latest bid will succeed or like past efforts once again failed. He is trying for his luck for last 22 years to lead Malaysia. But in the past, his bids to clinch top position in Malaysia failed and in the process he ended up in prison.
If Anwar is succeeded forming the government and clinch the leadership of the multi-ethnic south-east Asian nation it would be the culmination of a 22-year-long struggle, during which he spent almost 10 years in jail.
Mr Anwar, now 73, first made his name as a charismatic firebrand student leader who founded Malaysia’s Islamic youth movement, ABIM. He surprised many by joining the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the long-ruling party, in 1982. He climbed rapidly up the political ladder and held multiple ministerial posts.
In 1993 he became Mr Mahathir’s deputy and was widely expected to succeed him. But tensions set in after the Asian financial crisis of 1997, as they clashed over the economy and corruption. The other reason was his rising popularity among the masses. Mahatir started to view him as his challenger and turned against him. In September 1998, Mr Anwar was sacked and led public protests against then Prime Minister Mahathir.
Anwar and his supporters described all the charges brought against him as a plot to destroy his political career. He was granted a royal pardon in 2018, as part of the deal with Mahathir for him to succeed him as leader, after the two had forged an alliance to defeat Najib in the 2018 election.
It was the start of Reformasi, a reform movement that would influence a generation of Malaysian democracy activists. Mr Anwar was arrested and eventually charged with sodomy and corruption – charges he denied in the controversial trial that followed.
Anwar’s latest bid for power comes less than seven months after current PM Muhyiddin Yasin emerged as leader following uncertainties triggered by the resignation of the previous prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad. Anwar claimed to have the support from close to two thirds of the legislature’s 222 lawmakers, without giving actual numbers or disclosing who had pledged support, though he did stress that the majority of lawmakers backing him were Malay Muslims.
The power struggle between different factions of ruling classes continues since the last general elections in which opposition forces defeated the ruling United Malayan National organisation (UMNO) for the first time since independence. Former PM Mahathir Muhammad was elected Prime Minister as the candidate of united opposition.
Mahathir reached an agreement with Anwer Ibrahim to transfer power to him after two years but it never happened. Mahathir instead of handing power over to Anwer preferred to side with his former cabinet colleague who formed government with the support of UMNO.
Now Anwer Ibrahim claimed to secure the majority to form the government. He said the development means the end of the government of current premier Muhyiddin Yassin, who grabbed power in a similar manner seven months ago.
Mahathir resigned as prime minister in February amid political turmoil within his former Malaysian United Indigenous Party and the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.
Muhyiddin, Mahathir’s party and cabinet colleague, broke away from the PH coalition and aligned with opposition parties, including the United Malays National Organization, to get majority support. After the king’s approval, Muhyiddin took over as prime minister in early March.
However, it remains uncertain if he would be able to form a government as he is yet to receive the nod from Malaysia’s king, who could instead choose to call for elections on Muhyiddin’s advice to end months of political volatility. Muhyiddin has a razor-thin majority in Parliament and has already hinted at polls to win a stronger mandate.
Mr Anwar, who cut a deal to succeed Dr Mahathir after they shocked Malaysia with an election victory in 2018, has been looking for a way back to power ever since their coalition collapsed.
Khalid Bhatti Ace News
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *