KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim took his oath of office as the 10th prime minister of Malaysia today, after having been what many describe as the longest prime minister-in-waiting — almost 25 years.
The 75-year-old chairman of the Pakatan Harapan coalition and president of PKR is no stranger to national administration as he was the deputy prime minister prior to his sacking in 1998 and imprisonment later on charges he said were politically motivated attempts to end his career.
Anwar had captured the Tambun parliamentary seat in the just-concluded 15th general election (GE15), leading Harapan to win 82 seats in an election that ended in a hung parliament that was resolved by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah following deliberation with the Malay Rulers.
The new prime minister, known for his oratory skills and his ability to keep his audience spellbound, was born on August 10, 1947, in Cherok Tok Kun, Bukit Mertajam, in Penang.
He received his primary education at Sekolah Kebangsaan Cherok Tok Kun and Sekolah Stowell before entering the prestigious Malay College Kuala Kangsar and pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Malay Studies at Universiti Malaya.
Having been active as an Islamist student leader during his university days, Anwar founded the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia or ABIM and served as its president until 1982.
At the same time, he was also a member of the Asian Youth Council, World Youth Council and the Asia Pacific Regional Committee of the World Assembly of Youth.
In 1982, Anwar accepted an invitation from the then 4th Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad to join UMNO and his government.
He was first elected as a the MP for Permatang Pauh in the same year and advanced swiftly with his appointment to the Malaysian administration as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Subsequently, he served as the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports (1983); Minister of Agriculture (1984) and Minister of Education (1986).
Also in Dr Mahathir’s administration, Anwar was entrusted with a senior minister’s post, namely Minister of Finance, beginning in 1991.
In 1993, he was appointed as the deputy prime minister.
During his service in the government, Anwar also made Malaysia proud when he was named Asia’s Best Finance Minister in 1996.
However, on September 2, 1998, Anwar was sacked from the government administration and sentenced to six years imprisonment in 1999.
Being in jail did not dampen the fighting spirit of Anwar as he began promoting and championing the reformation agenda through his new party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
Anwar was released from prison in 2004 but he could not return to politics as the law prohibited him from participating in politics for five years from the date of his release.
In 2008, Anwar finally returned to Parliament after winning the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in a by-election which was called after his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, vacated the seat to enable him to contest and become an MP.
Anwar successfully defended the seat in the 13th General Election (GE13) in 2013.
However, in 2014, Anwar was sent back to jail, this time for five years, causing him to be disqualified as the MP for Permatang Pauh yet again.
Following a pact made with Dr Mahathir (who quit UMNO in 2016), Harapan won the 14th general election, dubbed the mother of all elections, in 2018, thus ending the six-decade rule of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Anwar was granted a full pardon by the-then Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, which enabled him to return to politics.
At the PKR National Congress on November 18, 2018, Anwar was elected PKR president after Dr Wan Azizah resigned from the post.
In the same month, Anwar contested a by-election for the Port Dickson parliamentary seat and won with a 23,560-vote majority.
The political pact between Anwar and Dr Mahathir, who became the country’s 7th Prime Minister and led the Harapan government, did not last long due to a power transition issue and the so-called ‘Sheraton Move’ of some MPs withdrawing support resulted in the collapse of the Harapan government.
Anwar became the Harapan chairman after Dr Mahathir resigned as the prime minister and chairman of Bersatu, a Harapan component, on February 24, 2020, but the former remained as the Opposition Leader during the tenure of the 8th PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the 9th PM Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Under Anwar’s leadership, Harapan, which comprises PKR, DAP, Amanah and the United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko), as well as ally Muda garnered the highest number of 82 parliamentary seats in GE15 that resulted in a hung Parliament.