Anwar Ibrahim: Things you need to know about Malaysia’s 10th prime minister

KUALA LUMPUR: After days of political infighting and palace intrigue following Saturday’s election, Malaysia is finally set to announce a new government.
But the future of the new Prime Minister is anointed Anwar Ibrahim Still not sure. He will have to work with a host of uneasy allies, even as major economic challenges loom for the country.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new administration, the tangled web of alliances, and what’s next:
How do we get here?
Five days after national elections returned a hung parliament, the King of Malaysia King Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has the final say in choosing Anwar as the nation’s next prime minister. He was forced to make the decision after each of the country’s major political coalitions failed to win the more than 111 seats needed to win a parliamentary majority.
First, the king asked the leaders of the two largest blocs — Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan alliance and the pro-Malay group Perikatan Nasional, led by former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin — to form a unity government. Muhyiddin refused, bringing the process to a standstill and forcing the king to use his constitutional powers to make the final decision.
Who is the next Prime Minister of Malaysia?
While Anwar has long been a mainstay in Malaysian politics, he has long fallen short of his ambition to become prime minister. As the country’s longest-serving former finance minister and deputy prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, his political rise was cut short after he was sacked following the 1997 financial crisis following disagree with Mahathir. He was later expelled from the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which has dominated Malaysian politics since independence in 1957, and served time in prison for abuse of power and the unified regime. politics, which he denies and says is politically motivated.
In 2015, he was again jailed for five years for sodomy but was pardoned by the king in 2018 following his shock victory in the election of his coalition, following a brief reconciliation with Mahathir. But Mahathir’s delay in handing over the power of prime minister, as well as policy disputes and defections within the party caused the government to eventually collapse in 2020, sending Pakatan Harapan back into the opposition. .
What are the main political alliances of the country?
— Pakatan Harapan: Led by Anwar, the largest bloc in the election won 82 seats in the election, drawing support from urban and educated voters for its progressive agenda and committed to solving economic problems. One major obstacle to its coalition-building efforts, however, is its largest member, the Democratic Action Party (DAP). While popular among the sizable Chinese population, other parties have a tradition
refused to work in a coalition that included the DAP due to concerns the organization wanted to abolish preferential treatment for Malays and indigenous peoples – who make up nearly 70% of the population – in favor of a plan that benefits for all ethnic groups. Other coalition members include the People’s Justice Party, the National Trusteeship Party and the newly formed United Democratic Union of Malaysia.
— Barisan Nasional: The UMNO-dominated coalition has long played a huge role in Malaysian politics, having formed every government since independence until 2018. However, the alliance has been affected. influence in the polls in 2018 after its Malay base turned against the party following a presidential election. There have been a series of corruption allegations against the leaders – most notably Prime Minister Najib Razak’s role in a corruption scandal involving Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. While Najib is currently behind bars, UMNO leaders including party chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi still face dozens of corruption lawsuits. That contributed to another election, with the coalition winning just 30 seats in Saturday’s election, its worst to date.
— Perikatan Nasional: The group consists of two main parties, Bersatu and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS). The coalition is led by former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who was instrumental in toppling the government of Pakatan Harapan after leaving the coalition in 2020. The Muslim, pro-Malay coalition has increased its number of seats to 73 this year, from 39 in the primaries. last parliament.
— Borneo Parties: Three small parties dominate the island of Borneo, which has traditionally been angry at being abandoned by policymakers in peninsular Malaysia. Gabungan Parti Sarawak won 23 seats (GPS); Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) won six; and Warisan are just three. But support from such parties, which often favor local interests, could prove important for legislation being passed in a hung parliament.
What happens next?
While Anwar is appointed prime minister, he will have to regularly attract and maintain support from parties with different interests. That means he faces a conundrum about which party or coalition to choose to join his governing coalition.
Although the King has tasked him and other parties with a unity government, the age-old animosity can be difficult to overcome. Barisan Nasional has declared support for a unity government, but has ruled out allowing Perikatan Nasional to lead it. In the case of Sarawak GPS, there is a conflict between the party and the DAP, after leader Lim Guan Eng, during his time as finance minister in 2019, said Sarawak state would go bankrupt if it continued to be ruled by GPS. .
So far, Anwar said he has won the support of Barisan Nasional and several parties in Borneo to form a government, and is ready to prove it with a vote of confidence on December 19 in the country. festival. It remains to be seen whether Muhyiddin’s declaration of willingness to bring in coalition members into government – the former prime minister has questioned the level of support for Anwar – will materialize. At the same time, several key parties have taken public steps towards resuming ties, with Anwar’s coalition DAP leaders apologizing for previous remarks about the Borneo-based GPS party, Their president accepted the olive branch.
What are the immediate challenges for the government?
Much will hinge on whether Anwar’s coalition can deal with the economic difficulties that have been central to the election campaign. While the economy is on a fragile recovery, voters are grappling with rising costs of living and a weakening currency amid fears of a global slowdown next year.
Anwar will also have to address the concerns of young Malay voters in rural areas, who have been the main source of support for Perikatan Nasional. According to Campbell White, head of public affairs and voting for Asia-Pacific at YouGov, many people are looking for well-paying jobs to help them cope with the cost of living of the day. increasing. However, the pivot to more ethnically-focused policies that could aid them risks backfiring with the more progressive members of Anwar’s coalition.
Can the new government survive?
Malaysia has gone through many different governments since the fall of Mahathir’s government in 2020, under the weight of several defections. Anwar’s administration will also begin its life on shaky ground, facing considerable pressure to keep other parties, traditionally at odds, in favor of the passage of the law.
There are also concerns about corruption. A possible role for Barisan Nasional in supporting the new government means the issue remains open to opposition parties and presents a new headache for Anwar, who has promised to lead a new government. clean coating. UMNO’s support for Anwar’s alliance may hinge on how he handles such issues.
What role will Islamic parties play?
PAS emerged from the election as the only party with the most seats, winning a total of 49 seats as it demonstrated a higher religious standing than UNMO and other pro-Malay groups. The party has gained support in most rural areas based on promoting a Muslim agenda that includes the imposition of Sharia law and nationwide restrictions on alcohol sales.
While still considering joining Anwar’s government, even if they don’t, the party has the potential to exert considerable pressure on his administration, by opposing liberal policies that resonate with the government. PAS’s growing voter base.


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