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Malaysia: Anwar Ibrahim Sworn In as PM

    Malaysia: Anwar Ibrahim Sworn In as PM
    Last updated: 1 week ago
    Image credit: Getty Images [via CNN]

    Facts

    • Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, chairman of the coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH), was sworn in as Malaysia's 10th Prime Minister on Thursday after being appointed by Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah to form a unity government amid a hung parliament. [1]
    • His nomination came hours after Malaysia's king held a special meeting with his fellow Malay rulers to discuss the formation of the new government after the three primary coalitions had failed to establish a majority in a recent election. [2]
    • This marks the ending of Anwar's decades-long wait for Malaysia's premiership after being deputy prime minister in the 1990s and the official prime minister-in-waiting in 2018. In between, he was imprisoned on corruption and sodomy charges that he claims were politically motivated. [3]
    • The long-ruling conservative Barisan Nasional coalition, which won 30 seats in last week's election, favored Anwar, saying it wouldn't support a government led by former PM Muhyiddin Yassin's right-wing Perikatan Nasional (PN) bloc. [4]
    • Markets reacted positively to this outcome, with Malaysia's ringgit soaring as much as 1.5% – its best day in two weeks – and equities rising 3% – their best session since November 2020. [5]
    • Meanwhile, PN's Muhyiddin refused to accept Anwar's appointment, claiming that he himself had been backed by 115 MPs before the deadline — with 112 votes needed to win a majority. He also urged Anwar to prove he has the majority support of MPs. [1]
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    Spin

    Narrative A

    As the king's decision to appoint Anwar is final and can't be challenged, it's futile to argue that he failed to reach a majority. However, it's clear that his premiership is unlikely to be smooth sailing: the Malay-ethnic majority isn't backing him, and forging ties with scandal-tainted leaders — as Anwar has done — will only further tarnish his reputation.

    Narrative B

    Malaysia requires leaders with diplomatic skills willing to act in the best interest of its citizens regardless of race or religion. While his success remains to be seen, Anwar — who has been a loud advocate for stability, good governance, proper economic management, and a unity government — embodies these principles and is the ideal candidate to lead the country out of its political crisis.

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