Nov 24, 2022: According to a report by Reuters, Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, capping a three-decade political journey from a protege of veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad to protest leader, a prisoner convicted of sodomy and opposition leader.
His appointment ends five days of unprecedented post-election crisis, but could usher in a new instability with his rival, former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, challenging him to prove his majority in parliament.
Both men failed to win a majority in a Saturday election, but the constitutional monarch, King Al-Sultan Abdullah, appointed Anwar after speaking to several lawmakers.
Markets surged upon the end of the political deadlock. The ringgit currency posted its best day in two weeks and equities rose 3 percent.
The long-ruling Barisan bloc won only 30 seats — the worst electoral performance for a coalition that had dominated politics since independence in 1957.
Barisan said on Thursday it would not support a government led by Muhyiddin, though it did not make any reference to Anwar.
Muhyiddin, after Anwar’s appointment, asked Anwar to prove his majority in parliament.
The constitutional monarch plays a largely ceremonial role but can appoint a premier he believes will command a majority in parliament.
Malaysia has a unique constitutional monarchy in which kings are chosen in turn from the royal families of nine states to reign for a five-year term.
As premier, Anwar will have to address soaring inflation and slowing growth as the economy recovers from the COVID-19
pandemic, while calming ethnic tensions.
The most immediate issue will be the budget for next year, which was tabled before the election was called but has yet to be passed.
Anwar will also have to negotiate agreements with lawmakers from other blocs to ensure he can retain majority support in parliament.
“Anwar is appointed at a critical juncture in Malaysian history, where politics is most fractured, recovering from a depressed economy and a bitter COVID memory,” said James Chai, visiting fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
“Always regarded as the man who could unite all warring factions, it is fitting that Anwar emerged during a divisive time.”