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Pakatan Harapan or the Alliance of Hope has succeeded in its quest for wrest back the seat of government unduly taken away from the people of Malaysia by what many call ‘political scheming’ which was rife with betrayal, albeit a unity government being formed.
Coalition President and now the 10th Prime Minister Dato’ SeriAnwar Ibrahim ends being on the cusp of power, as the coalition along with MPs from Barisan Nasional and other political parties have secured victory at Malaysia’s 15th General elections to form a unity government as decreed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.
Anwar, 75, whose political career spans four decades — including being thrown into prison twice on what was later proved to be politically motivated charges — was optimistic Pakatan Harapan could finally win enough seats to form a government and replace the graft-tainted ruling party.
On Nov 13, Anwar was quoted saying: “I have covered almost the entire country; I must say realistically… and there is a possibility that we may be able to reach a simple majority. We have to work harder and push a bit more… we will now work to achieve it,” – this has clearly become reality.
So long the runner-up of Malaysian politics, the PKR president has beaten all nay-sayers in saying that he (Anwar) could be running out of time to achieve his long-held but elusive ambition of leading the nation.
Anwar was a firebrand youth leader when he was recruited in 1982 into Umno, the main political party in Barisan Nasional that ruled Malaysia for more than 60 years.
His star rose meteorically, with the suave young politician becoming finance minister and then deputy prime minister in the early 1990s under former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a youthful counterbalance to the political veteran.
The pairing, considered one of the most dynamic duos in Southeast Asian politics at the time, soon unravelled.
Tensions came to a head during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, when they had a bitter falling out over how to handle the debacle.
Some observers say Anwar had been too impatient to become prime minister, slighting his patron, Dr Mahathir then sacked Anwar, who was also expelled from Umno and charged with corruption and sodomy.
He was sentenced to six years in jail for corruption in 1999, with an additional nine-year prison term added for the sodomy charge the following year, the two sentences to run consecutively.
Anwar’s justified claimed of political persecution then led to street protests erupting and evolved into the “Reformasi” movement. Anwar was granted a full pardon from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 2018 for his three convictions – one for abuse of power and two for sodomy – on the basis that there was a “miscarriage of justice”.
Photos of Anwar with a black eye, inflicted in prison were published in the media around the world, turning him into a symbol for a struggle that adopted the battle cry of “Reformasi”.
Despair And Hope
The Mahathir-Anwar tussle has dominated and shaped Malaysian politics over the past four decades, “alternately bringing despair and hope, progress and regress to the country’s polity”, according to Oh Ei Sun of the Pacific Research Center of Malaysia.
The Federal Court overturned Anwar’s earlier sodomy conviction in 2004, a year after Mahathir stepped down as prime minister, and ordered him to be freed.
After a brief hiatus from politics as an academic, Anwar returned to lead Pakatan Rakyat in the 2013 general election. His coalition won 50.87% of the popular vote but failed to muster the numbers needed for a parliamentary majority.
Controversy continued to hound the married father of six. He was again sentenced to jail for sodomy in 2015, this time for five years, at the age of 70.
He has maintained his innocence and received a full pardon from the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong three years into his sentence. Anwar returned to parliament months later after winning the Port Dickson by-election.
PH’s 2018 Win
Anwar allied with Mahathir during the 2018 elections when his erstwhile tormentor came out of retirement to challenge incumbent Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was mired in the billion-dollar 1MDB financial scandal. Najib now serves his 12-year jail term for corruption and cough up a RM210 million fine in default of another five years imprisonment.
Their alliance scored a historic victory against the Umno-led BN and Najib. Dr Mahathir became prime minister for the second time, this time with an agreement to hand over the premiership to Anwar later. He (Mahathir) never fulfilled that pact, and their alliance collapsed after 22 months paving the way for Umno to return to power.
Anwar had rejected any more alliances with Dr Mahathir, who is again running for parliament at age 97. Mahathir was defeated in Langkawi in GE 15 by a 13,518 majority, receiving 4,566 votes out of 47480 total votes cast.
Anwar’s campaign rallies for GE15 have drawn sizeable, enthusiastic crowds, many still chanting the “Reformasi!” slogan made popular 30 years ago, his message: “Do not let the future of the country be dictated by corrupt leaders.”
Anwar’s task at hand now is to deliver on PH’s 2022 Manifesto which centres on 10 ‘offers’ among them being reviving the economy, address cost of living issues, fight corruption and strengthen democratic institutions, empower youth economic opportunities by exploring the humanitarian sector, save the dropout generation in education and build disaster resilience.
Reformasi: Unrelenting Quest For Justice, Fairplay Stamps Anwar’s Will To Return The People’s Mandate – BusinessToday
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