FRIDAY, February 23, 2024

Anwar Ibrahim to be sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister at 5pm

Anwar Ibrahim to be sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister at 5pm

Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Anwar Ibrahim will end a 24-year wait to lead Malaysia at 5pm Thursday, when he will be sworn in as Prime Minister.

The Palace said in a statement that the King made the decision after conferring with other rulers in a special meeting of the nation’s nine state monarchs.

“After going through the views of the Malay rulers, His Majesty has consented to appoint Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister,” said Royal Comptroller Fadli Shamsuddin on Thursday afternoon.

This comes after most parties agreed to Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah’s proposal for a unity government after Saturday’s general election threw up Malaysia’s first-ever hung Parliament.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar and his rival Perikatan Nasional (PN) chief Muhyiddin Yassin had been deadlocked and unable to gather the 112 MPs needed for simple majority in the legislature.

After Umno confirmed early Thursday that it would join a unity government, departing from the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition’s earlier stance of remaining in opposition, other parties across the country have followed suit.

Even PN said on Thursday it would consider unity government discussions with like-minded parties.

The Straits Times has learnt that a deal struck between PH and BN - which found itself in the role of kingmaker with 30 MPs despite the Umno-led coalition being humiliated at Saturday’s vote - will see Umno gaining several senior portfolios, with the party’s number two Mohamad Hasan set to be installed as deputy premier.

Anwar’s ascension to the top office, having been sacked as deputy premier in 1998 amid controversial allegations of sodomy and abuse of power, marks a remarkable triumph following a journey that included two stints in prison.

He was appointed deputy prime minister under Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Umno-led government in 1993, but his prospects dimmed after he was jailed for corruption in 1999. His imprisonment sparked street protests and the birth of his PKR, which now leads PH.

Anwar was again imprisoned in 2015 for sodomy, but was given a royal pardon and released in May 2018 after PH won the general election that year. Dr Mahathir, who had left Umno and joined hands with Mr Anwar to secure PH’s victory, became the Prime Minister.

The PKR chief was then widely expected to ascend to power as part of an agreement within PH for him to take over as prime minister in two years from Dr Mahathir. But his progress was again thwarted when the PH government collapsed in February 2020 following defections.

Anwar and Muhyiddin both staked their claim after their respective coalitions won 81 and 73 seats respectively in Saturday’s general election which also saw Dr Mahathir fall from grace in a thumping defeat.

Sultan Abdullah stepped in on Tuesday to surface the idea of a unity government. Muhyiddin’s decision to reject the proposal, claiming he had a simple majority with backing from other parties, proved fatal to his hopes.