Election battle won, real test begins for new Malaysian PM

Nov 25, 2022, 12:05 AM | Updated: 12:20 am
Malaysia's newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Wan Azizah waves as they arriv...

Malaysia's newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Wan Azizah waves as they arrive at a gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Malaysia's king on Thursday named Anwar as the country's prime minister, ending days of uncertainty after the divisive general election produced a hung Parliament. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim has won a hard-fought battle to become Malaysia’s new prime minister. But working with former foes to form a unity government as a polarized nation watches will immediately test his political mettle.

There is no honeymoon period for Anwar, 75, who got straight down to work less than 24 hours after he was sworn in as the nation’s 10th leader.

National television showed Anwar clocking in Friday morning at the government administrative capital of Putrajaya. His first test will be the construction of a Cabinet and the distribution of portfolios to appease the diverse members of his unity government.

Anwar promised Monday that his Cabinet will be leaner compared to the previous, oversized administration, and said he will forego his salary as prime minister amid the country’s economic slowdown. He said new Cabinet members would be asked to cut their salaries, too.

“My main priority now is the cost of living,” he told a news conference.

Anwar pledged to work swiftly to find ways to help Malaysians struggling with rising food costs, a currency at its lowest point in over two decades and stagnating wages ahead of an expected economic slowdown next year.

Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, won 82 out of 222 seats in the Nov. 19 general election. To cobble a majority, he won support from two key rival blocs: the long-ruling National Front, which has 30 seats, and the Sarawak Parties Alliance with 23. Several smaller blocs have said they will also join.

Former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Malay-centric National Alliance unexpectedly won 73 seats. Muhyiddin’s hard-line ally, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party that touts Sharia, took 49 seats to become the country’s single largest party in an indication of the rise of conservative Islam.

Anwar’s victory with support from political rivals marked another “watershed moment that heralded a new era for Malaysian democracy,” said Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, political analyst with the University of Science, Malaysia.

It came on the back of his alliance’s stunning victory in 2018 polls, which ended the National Front’s 60-year grip on power and led to the country’s first regime change since independence from Britain in 1957. But the new government crumbled after power grab that led to turmoil and saw a total of three prime ministers in four years. Anwar was in prison at the time on a sodomy charge he said was politically motivated.

Anwar fostered a conciliatory tone after his appointment, welcoming all parties to his government as long as they adhere to the basic rules of good governance, no corruption and a “Malaysia for all Malaysians.”

Analysts said the makeup of his Cabinet will provide a clearer picture of his policies going forward, as he puts flesh to bones on his campaign promises to clean up the government and heal deepening racial and religious gashes. His anti-corruption platform will be tested amid concerns that concessions will be made for some National Front leaders battling graft charges in return for their support.

An ethnic Muslim, Anwar must also earn the trust of conservative Malays, who viewed him as too liberal and opted for Muhyiddin’s right-wing bloc in the contentious election. Police have tightened security and Anwar’s supporters have been told to hold off celebrations that may provoke Islamic supporters.

In such a racially charged environment, Anwar’s aims — including replacing a decades-old affirmative action plan that gives privileges to Malays in jobs, education and housing — may be a minefield.

Anwar has assured Malays that their rights under the constitution and the position of Islam as the national religion will be protected. But he stressed that other races must not be marginalized so that the country can be united.

“Racial divide has been in existence in Malaysia since independence,” said political analyst Ahmad Fauzi.

“Anwar will come up with his own formula to rein in the problem, but thinking that he’ll be able to extinguish it is to expect the impossible from him,” he added.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Malaysia's newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim listens to question during a gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Long-time reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim has been sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister. It’s a victory for the political reformers who have been locked in a battle for days with Malay nationalists after a divisive general election produced a hung Parliament. Malaysia’s king named 75-year-old Anwar as the nation’s 10th leader, saying he was satisfied that Anwar is the candidate who is likely to have majority support. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
            
              Malaysia's newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Wan Azizah waves as they arrive at a gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Malaysia's king on Thursday named Anwar as the country's prime minister, ending days of uncertainty after the divisive general election produced a hung Parliament. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
            
              Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, left, and newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim pose after the swearing-in ceremony at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Malaysia's king on Thursday named Anwar as the country's prime minister, ending days of uncertainty after the divisive general election produced a hung Parliament. (Mohd Rasfan/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Malaysia's newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim signs documents after taking the oath during the swearing-in ceremony at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Malaysia's king on Thursday named Anwar as the country's prime minister, ending days of uncertainty after the divisive general election produced a hung Parliament. (Mohd Rasfan/Pool Photo via AP)
            
              Malaysia's newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim offers prayers after taking the oath during the swearing-in ceremony at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. Malaysia's king on Thursday named Anwar as the country's prime minister, ending days of uncertainty after the divisive general election produced a hung Parliament. (Mohd Rasfan/Pool Photo via AP)

AP

/// State Sen. Clarence Lam, a Maryland Democrat who is a physician at Johns Hopkins, speaks during...
Associated Press

As many as 80K Marylanders could lose Medicaid eligibility

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland officials are preparing for as many as 80,000 residents who could no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage this spring, as the federal government reinstates a requirement that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic for states to verify the eligibility of recipients. Michele Eberle, the executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit […]
10 hours ago
FILE - A fuel trucks drives along a highway in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 27, 2023. European Union go...
Associated Press

Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over Ukraine

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe imposed a ban Sunday on Russian diesel fuel and other refined oil products, slashing energy dependency on Moscow and seeking to further crimp the Kremlin’s fossil fuel earnings as punishment for invading Ukraine. The ban comes along with a price cap agreed by the Group of Seven allied democracies. The […]
10 hours ago
FILE - Outgoing British Prime Minister Liz Truss speaks outside Downing Street in London, on Oct. 2...
Associated Press

It wasn’t me: Ex-UK PM Truss blames ‘system’ for her failure

LONDON (AP) — Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss says her failure wasn’t her fault. Truss on Sunday blamed a “powerful economic establishment” and internal Conservative Party opposition for the rapid collapse of her government, and said she still believes her tax-cutting policies were the right ones. Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister resigned in October, six […]
10 hours ago
Two men share a meal in a makeshift tent camp outside the Petit Chateau reception center in Brussel...
Associated Press

EU migration impasse leaves many refugees out in the cold

BRUSSELS (AP) — Some refugees and asylum-seekers in Brussels have been spending months in between the Street of Palaces and the Small Castle — quite literally. Unfortunately, it’s not a dream come true at the end of their fearful flight from halfway across the globe. It’s a perpetual nightmare. Petit Chateau, which means small castle, […]
10 hours ago
Items are displayed in the "Boutique" at the Insight Women's Center, where clients can find clothes...
Associated Press

US states take control of abortion debate with funding focus

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Though the Insight Women’s Center sits at the epicenter of a reinvigorated battle in the nation’s culture wars, the only hint of its faith-based mission to dissuade people from getting abortions is the jazzy, piano rendition of “Jesus Loves Me” playing in a waiting room. The Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature is considering […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

India’s G-20 energy meet to balance renewables, fossil fuels

BENGALURU, India (AP) — Over 500 energy industry heavyweights and 30,000 participants will descend on the southern Indian city of Bengaluru on Monday to discuss the future of renewables and fossil fuels at India Energy Week — the first big ticket event of the country’s presidency of the Group of 20 leading economies. Speakers, including […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Election battle won, real test begins for new Malaysian PM