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.”
I was at the airport when our 10pm was announced and I heard people screaming and saw them smiling from ear to ear.
Could be coincidence but just after the airport started playing Standing In The Eyes of The World
— Raenu (@itsraenu_) November 24, 2022
“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’s resurgence is something that can inspire many generations to come. Waited 24 years, went through all kinds of political underhandedness and even endured prison terms – but never gave up his principles. keep believing #PM10Malaysia
– Ken 🏴 (@CHKen_2) November 24, 2022
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.”
anwar taught us never to give up on dreams. PM at 75? we still have so much to experience 😭😭😭
— aida (@aidarazman) November 24, 2022
“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.
Anwar Ibrahim (finally) sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister! It’s hard not to get emotional seeing this, knowing the challenges he and his family have faced. May your tenure be great and bring Malaysia back to glory. Our PM. #reformasi pic.twitter.com/Lr69dcbah5
— Edward Kuruvilla (@edwardkuruvilla) November 24, 2022
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.
God allowed Mahathir to live long enough to see Anwar Ibrahim become Prime Minister of Malaysia.
— شكينة (@_nsyakinah) November 24, 2022
“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.
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, was finally fulfilled…but as a former Prime Minister, he will be invited, as will Anwar’s to attend the swearing-in.
— Amirul Ruslan (@amirulruslan) November 24, 2022
“What a year,” wrote @mhmgrgie. “Najib is going to jail. Mahathir loses his bail and now Anwar is PM. Historical would be an understatement…”
what a year Najib goes to jail, Mahathir loses his bail and now Anwar is prime minister. Historical would be an understatement.
— MHM (@mhmgrgie) November 24, 2022
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.”
– Gave her undeniable support and love for Anwar to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
– Became leader of the opposition for a short time
– The First Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
– saw her husband go to jail twice.
I can’t imagine the power she has to pull it all off.
– not typical. (@JustinTWJ) November 24, 2022
Twitter user @tsimitha wrote: “This incredible woman who was the heart of the Reformasi movement made this day possible! Women are born leaders!”
You know what struck me the most about the inauguration ceremony? Watch after @drwanazizah I sat and surveyed the swearing in of AI. This incredible woman who was the heart of #reform Movement made this day possible! Women are born leaders! We need more women in politics! #PM10 #Malaysia pic.twitter.com/QmFv0eXXjx
– Simitha Singam – சிமித்தா சிங்கம் (@tsimitha) November 24, 2022
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.
Terima kasih semua kepada yang terus mengutus ucapan tahniah dan saya amat menghargainya. Tanpa dukungan dan usaha kalian, kita tidak mampu mencapainya hari ini. #DemiPertiwi pic.twitter.com/3Q40ehaovH
— Anwar Ibrahim (@anwaribrahim) November 24, 2022