By Dr Aslam Abdullah
He was a contender for Prime ministership twice, but he imprisoned him both times, assassinated his character, and tried to oust him from Malaysian politics. But his popularity forced his opponents to clear him off corruption charges and sodomy. Now, as the leader of a coalition that won 82 out of 220 seats in the country’s parliament, Anwar Ibrahim is the ninth Prime Minister. The Malaysian called its former Prime Minister an Iron Man. However, Anwar Ibrahim proved his steel nerves and stamina to survive against all odds. Moreover, he remained connected with his people during those 25 years when his opponents had written his political obituary several times.
Malaysia is a federation of 13 states and three federal territories, divided between two regions, with 11 states and two federal territories in Peninsular Malaysia and the other two states and one national part in East Malaysia.
The country’s population was 32,447,385 in 2020, making it the 42nd most populated country. People within the 15–64 age group constitute 69.5 percent of the total population; the 0–14 age group corresponds to 24.5 percent, while senior citizens aged 65 years or older make up 6.0 percent.
Malaysian citizens, with 69.7 percent considered Bumiputera. The largest group of Bumiputera are Malays Muslims, who practice Malay customs and culture. However, Bumiputera also includes the non-Malay indigenous groups of Sabah and Sarawak, such as Dayaks (Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu), Kadazan-Dusun, Melanau, Bajau, and others. Non-Malay Bumiputeras make up more than half of Sarawak’s population and over two-thirds of Sabah’s population.
Two other non-Bumiputera local ethnic groups are 22.5 percent Chinese and 6.8 percent Indians. The local Chinese are dominant in the business. The new Prime Minister has four immediate priorities.
- Form a national unity government to prove his majority in the parliament
- To fight corruption plaguing Malaysian politics for decades.
- To pursue economic policies ensuring the growth of all.
- To maintain a balance between pluralism and the identity of over 70 percent of its Muslim population.
If given time and opportunity, Anwar Ibrahim has the ability and skills to provide the country with a new identity based on development, tolerance, and multiculturalism.
However, his immediate task is to emerge unscathed from the Malaysian political maze. Here is the breakdown of Malaysian political parties. Anwar Ibrahim is the leader of Pakatan Harapan (PH), with 82 seats. The alliance consists of five parties, including Democratic Action Party (DAP): 40, People’s Justice Party (PKR): 31, Amanah: 8, United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO): 2 and MUDA 1
Muhyiddin Yassin leads Perikatan Nasional (PN), with 73 seats. It includes Pan-Islamic Party (PAS): 49, Bersatu: 24
Barisan Nasional has 30 seats, with United Malays National Organization (UMNO): at 26, Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA): at 2, and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC):1
The coalition of Sarawak Parties (GPS) has 22 seats. Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu: 14, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS): 5, Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP): 2, Progressive Democratic Party (PDP): 1
Sabah People’s Alliance (GRS) has six seats. Sabah Bersatu: 4, Sabah Star: 1, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah: 1
Independents have six seats. Warisan: 4, Malaysian Nation Party: 1, Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM): 1, and Independent:1
Who will support Anwar Ibrahim’s coalition, and at what cost? These two questions will test his ability to lead the country. After his victory, Anwar Ibrahim said: “We will never compromise on good governance. The anti-corruption drive, judicial independence, and the welfare of ordinary Malaysians will remain our priorities. ”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Anwar and said Americans looked forward to deepening the two nations’ friendship and cooperation based on shared democratic principles and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
“We remain committed to working with Malaysia to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region,” Blinken said in a statement.
Anwar has proved that he stands for a pluralistic vision of Islam for a just and fair society.