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Election battle won, real test begins for new Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim


KUALA LUMPUR: Reform leader Anwar Ibrahim won the tough battle to become the new prime minister of Malaysia. But working with old enemies to form a unity government amid a polarized nation watching would immediately test his political mettle.
There is no honeymoon for Anwar, 75, who got to work less than 24 hours after being sworn in as the nation’s 10th leader.
National television showed Mr Anwar timing the clock Friday morning in the government’s administrative capital Putrajaya. His first test will be to build a Cabinet and allocate portfolios to appease the diverse members of his unity government.
Anwar promised on Monday that his Cabinet would be leaner than the previous overarching administration, and said he would give up his salary as prime minister amid the country’s faltering economy. Depression. He said new Cabinet members will also be asked to take pay cuts.
“My main priority right now is the cost of living,” he said at a press conference.
Anwar pledged to work quickly to find ways to help Malaysians grappling with soaring food prices, a currency hitting its lowest level in more than two decades and stagnant wages in the face of an expected recession. next year.
Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, won 82 out of 222 seats in the November 19 general election. To gain a majority, he won support from two main rival blocs: the faction. long-term rule. National Fronthas 30 seats, and Union of Sarawak Parties with 23. Several smaller blocks said they would also participate.
Former Prime Minister Muhyiddin YassinThe Malay-centered National Coalition unexpectedly won 73 seats. Muhyiddin’s hard-line ally, the pro-Sharia Pan-Malaysian Muslim Party, won 49 seats to become the country’s sole largest party, a sign of the rise of conservative Islam. .
Anwar’s victory with support from political opponents marked another “watershed moment that heralds a new era for Malaysian democracy,” he said. Ahmad Fauzi Abdul HamidPolitical Analyst at University of Science, Malaysia.
It comes after his coalition’s stunning victory in the 2018 polls ended 60 years of National Front rule and led to the country’s first regime change since independence from Russia. Britain in 1957. But the new government fell after a chaotic takeover of power that saw a total of three prime ministers in four years. Anwar was in prison at the time on charges that he said were politically motivated.
Anwar pushed for a conciliatory tone after his appointment, welcoming all parties to his government as long as they adhere to the basic rules of good governance, zero corruption and a “Malaysia for all Malaysians”.
Analysts say the formation of his Cabinet will provide a clearer picture of his policies going forward, as he delivers on his campaign pledges to clean up. government and heal deepening racial and religious wounds. His anti-corruption platform will be tested amid concerns that some National Front leaders will have to make concessions when battling accusations of bribery in exchange for their support.
As an ethnic Muslim, Anwar must also win the trust of conservative Malays, who see him as too liberal and have chosen to follow Muhyiddin’s right-wing bloc in the controversial election. Police tightened security and Anwar’s supporters were asked to stop holding celebrations that might incite Muslim supporters.
In such a racist environment, Anwar’s goals — including replacing a decades-old affirmative action plan that gave Malays privilege of employment, education and housing — can be a minefield.
Anwar assured the Malays that their constitutional rights and Islam’s position as the state religion would be protected. But he stressed that other races must not be marginalized so that the country can be unified.
“Racial divisions have existed in Malaysia since independence,” said political analyst Ahmad Fauzi.
“Anwar will come up with his own formula for curbing the problem, but to think that he will be able to quell it is to expect the impossible from him,” he added.

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