Webinar: Anwar Ibrahim’s long walk to power, and what comes next

By James Chin, Professor, Asian Studies – University of Tasmania,
and Syerleena Abdul Rashid, Member of the Parliament of Malaysia for Bukit Bendera,
and Syaza Shukri, Assistant Professor of Political Science, International Islamic University Malaysia,
and Kean Wong, Editor, Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, and Hope in New Malaysia

After 30 years striving to claim Malaysia’s top job, Anwar Ibrahim became Malaysia’s 10th prime minister on 24 November at a critical time in the history of the country and region.

Days before, Malaysia's national elections paved the way for the political resurrection of 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.

In this webinar, Asialink convened a group of leading Malaysian political practitioners and analysts to assess the enormous challenges facing Anwar and the country.

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, Anwar's 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 21 December, two days after Anwar won a vote confirming his control of the numbers in parliament, Asialink hosted Professor of Asian Studies James Chin, new government MP Syerleena Abdul Rashid, and political scientist Dr Syaza Shukri of the International Islamic University to unpick the extraordinary story of Anwar’s path to power, his plans for reform and the challenges they face, and the perils that lie ahead for his new government. The conversation was led by veteran journalist and author on Malaysian affairs Kean Wong.