Malaysians celebrate Anwar Ibrahim’s rise to prime minister | News from politics

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 secured the top post in the Southeast Asian country on Thursday after his king intervened in the political impasse following last weekend’s inconclusive general election and named him the country’s 10th prime minister.

It was a remarkable comeback for Anwar, who has spent almost three decades in opposition, including 10 years in prison for bestiality and corruption, which he claims were politically motivated

Many Malaysians on Twitter responded with joyful disbelief.

“I was at the airport when our 10am was announced,” wrote Twitter user @itsraenu_. “I heard people scream and saw people smile from ear to ear.”

“Anwar’s resurgence is something for many generations to come to be inspired by,” wrote Twitter user @CHKen_2. “Had waited 24 years, endured all sorts of political backstabs and even endured prison – but never gave up on his principles. Keep believing.”

Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, appeared to take the top post in 1998 before being sacked from government after a falling out with then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad over his handling of the Asian financial crisis. Anwar was subsequently charged with bestiality – a crime in Malaysia – and corruption. Tens of thousands took to the streets to defend the charismatic leader and his calls for “reformasi” or reforms.

But he was jailed the following year.

Anwar managed to get an acquittal on sodomy charges in 2004 but was jailed again in 2015 on similar charges. In 2018, out of prison, he coordinated an opposition alliance and even joined forces with his former mentor-turned-enemy, Mahathir, to overthrow then-Prime Minister Najib Razak amid the multi-billion dollar sovereign wealth fund 1MDB corruption scandal.

At that time, Anwar was appointed official prime minister-on-waiting, but was again denied the post when renewed clashes with Mahathir brought down her government. Amid the instability, Najib’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which voters flatly rejected in the 2018 vote, returned to government, although Najib himself was jailed after the first of five 1MDB-related trials.

For Anwar’s supporters, his rise to the top after decades of turbulence is a testament to the power of perseverance.

Anwar “taught us never to give up on dreams,” wrote Twitter user @aidarazman. “PM at 75? We still have so much to experience.”

“It’s hard not to get emotional seeing this, knowing the challenges he and his family have faced,” wrote @edwardkuruvilla, posting a picture of Anwar’s oath ceremony. “May your tenure be great,” he added.

Many supporters of the new leader also poked fun at Mahathir, now 97, who is accused of thwarting Anwar’s ambitions. The former prime minister failed to defend his seat in Saturday’s election, failing even to win the 12.5 percent of the vote needed to get back the thousands of Malaysian ringgit he paid as election bail.

“God let Mahathir live long enough to see Anwar Ibrahim become Prime Minister of Malaysia,” wrote Twitter user @_nsyakinah.

“Don’t forget that Dr. Not only did Mahathir see his credit wiped out in an election and his only political purpose of the last 30 years, to prevent Anwar Ibrahim from becoming Prime Minister, finally happened…but as a former Prime Minister, he will be invited, including at Anwars swearing in,” wrote Twitter user @amirulruslan.

“What a year,” wrote @mhmgrgie. “Najib is going to jail. Mahathir loses his bail and now Anwar is PM. Historical would be an understatement…”

Anwar’s supporters also took a moment to pay tribute to his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who they say was instrumental in his rise.

Twitter user @JustinTWJ described the 69-year-old as the “mother of the Reformasi,” citing her role in leading Anwar’s Reformasi movement after his imprisonment and her role in mobilizing the alliance that brought down Najib. “I can’t imagine the power she has to pull it all off.”

Twitter user @tsimitha wrote: “This incredible woman who was the heart of the Reformasi movement made this day possible! Women are born leaders!”

For his part, Anwar said on Twitter that he would take on the tasks entrusted to him with “extreme humility”.

“We couldn’t achieve this today without your support and dedication,” he added.

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