After 30 years striving to claim Malaysia’s top job, Anwar Ibrahim became Malaysia’s 10th prime minister at a critical time in the history of the country and region.
The 19 November election was a resurrection for a man who was repeatedly jailed in what he claimed was part of a long conspiracy to deny him the national leadership.
With his coalition winning a plurality of parliamentary seats, Anwar was anointed by Malaysia’s king to form a federal ‘unity’ government.
But he faces enormous challenges. An economy battered by COVID-19 and a global slowdown, the rise of political Islam in parliament and society, shifting political allegiances, and a legacy of grand corruption combine to pose hurdles to Anwar’s ambitious reform agenda.
Ironically, his most important partner in government will be his old nemesis, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) – the party most deeply implicated in a string of infamous corruption scandals.
On December 21, 2022 Asialink hosted leading experts of Malaysian affairs, including Professor of Asian Studies James Chin, new government MP Syerleena Abdul Rashid, and political scientist Dr Syaza Shukri of the International Islamic University who unpicked the extraordinary story of Anwar’s path to power, his plans for reform and the challenges they face, the implications for Malaysia’s place in the world, and the perils that lie ahead for his new government. The discussion was moderated by Kean Wong.