Anwar’s appointment capped a three-decade-long political journey from supporter of veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad to protest leader, corruption convict, opposition leader and finally prime minister.
After the end of the political deadlock, the markets rose. The ringgit currency posted its best day in two weeks and equities rose 3 percent on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.
Saturday’s general election ended in an unprecedented hung parliament with one of two main coalitions led by Anwar and the other former prime minister Mohiuddin Yassin, who won enough seats in parliament to form an immediate government. succeeded in getting seats.
Anwar, 75, has been repeatedly denied the prime ministership over the years despite being at a significant distance: he was deputy prime minister in the 1990s and official prime minister in 2018.
Mark Lourdes reported on the Malaysian elections for CNN in 2018.
In between, he spent nearly a decade in prison for graft and corruption in what he says were politically motivated charges aimed at ending his career.
But uncertainty Election It threatens to prolong political instability in the Southeast Asian country, which has had three prime ministers in as many years, and risks delaying policy decisions needed to spur economic recovery.
Anwar leads a multi-ethnic coalition of progressive-leaning parties, while Muhyiddin’s coalition reflects more conservative, ethnic Malay, Muslim views.
His supporters hoped Anwar’s government would begin a reversal of historic tensions between the ethnic Malay, Muslim majority and ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.
“We just want moderation for Malaysia and Anwar represents that,” said a communications manager in Kuala Lumpur, who asked not to be identified by his surname Tang.
“We cannot have a country that is divided on the basis of race and religion because it will set us back another 10 years.”
Anwar told Reuters in an interview before the election that if he was appointed prime minister, he would try to “emphasise governance and anti-corruption and rid this country of racism and religious bigotry”.
His coalition, known as Pakatan Harapan, won the most seats in Saturday’s vote with 82, while Muhyiddin’s Perikatan National Bloc won 73 seats. They needed 112 – a simple majority – to form the government.
The long-ruling Barisan Bloc won just 30 seats – the worst electoral performance for the coalition that has dominated politics since independence in 1957.
Barisan said on Thursday it would not support a Muhyiddin-led government, although it made no reference to Anwar.
Muhyiddin’s bloc includes the Islamist party PAS, whose electoral successes have raised concerns among members of the Chinese and ethnic Indian communities, many of whom follow other faiths.
Authorities warned that it was on high alert for content that violated its guidelines after a weekend vote to escalate racial tensions on social media and the short-form video platform TikTok.
Social media users have reported a number of TikTok posts since the election referencing a riot in the capital Kuala Lumpur on May 13, 1969, in which nearly 200 people were killed, days after opposition parties had favored ethnic Chinese voters, interfered in the election.
Police asked social media users to refrain from “provocative” posts and said they were setting up 24-hour checkpoints on roads across the country to ensure public peace and security.
The decision on the prime minister came to King Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, after both Anwar and Muhyiddin missed their Tuesday afternoon deadline to put together a ruling coalition.
The constitutional monarch plays a largely ceremonial role but can appoint a prime minister who he believes will win a majority in parliament.
Malaysia has a unique constitutional monarchy in which monarchs are elected from nine royal families for five-year terms.
As prime minister, Anwar will have to deal with rising inflation and slowing growth as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, while calming ethnic tensions.
The most immediate issue will be next year’s budget, which was tabled before the election was called but has yet to be passed.
Anwar will also have to negotiate deals with lawmakers from other blocs to ensure he can retain majority support in parliament.
“Anwar’s appointment comes at a critical juncture in Malaysia’s history, where politics is at its most fractured, with a depressed economy and bitter Covid memories,” said James Chai, visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusuf Isaac Institute in Singapore. Recovering.”
“Always known as a man who could unite all warring factions, it is fitting that Anwar emerged at a divisive time.”