Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s 10th PM, a man of many firsts

Today is a day of many firsts for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was sworn in as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister.

Anwar is the first opposition leader to be named prime minister, and is set to lead the nation’s first unity government.

He is also the first prime minister whose wife, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, once served as deputy prime minister, and the first prime minister to be convicted of crimes, but was later pardoned.

Anwar, who is Tambun MP, took his oath of office before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah in Istana Negara at 5.05pm.

Anwar, the chairman of Pakatan Harapan, is the third prime minister to be sworn in before Al-Sultan Abdullah, within a span of 32 months.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister in February 2020, while Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob took his oath of office as the ninth prime minister in August 2021.

Anwar, 75, has had an illustrious political career spanning more than 40 years.

He co-founded the youth organisation Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) in 1971, and joined Umno in 1982.

Anwar held several Cabinet positions under the Barisan Nasional government in the 1980s and 1990s, and rose to prominence to become finance minister from 1991-1998, and deputy prime minister, from 1993 to 1998. His earlier portfolios included Culture, Youth and Sports minister (1983), Agricultural minister (1984) and Education minister (1986-1991)

In 1998, he was removed from all posts by then-prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Consequently, Anwar started and spearheaded the Reformasi movement against the government.

Anwar was jailed in April 1999 after he was convicted of sodomy and corruption. He was released in 2004 after his conviction was overturned.

He made a comeback as the leader of the opposition from 2008 to 2015 and consolidated the different opposition parties under the aegis of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition, which contested, unsuccessfully, in the 2008 and 2013 general elections.

Shortly before the 2008 elections, new sodomy charges were levelled against Anwar. He was acquitted of those charges in early 2012, after a two-year trial.

In 2014, the Court of Appeal overturned his 2012 acquittal, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.

In 2015 the Federal Court upheld the conviction and sentence. Anwar denied the charges, calling it a “political conspiracy”.

While in prison, Anwar re-joined Dr Mahathir under a new coalition – Pakatan Harapan.

PH won the 2018 general election and Anwar received a royal pardon from Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, and was released from prison. He returned to Parliament in the 2018 Port Dickson by-election, while Dr Wan Azizah served as deputy prime minister in the PH administration.

The PH-led government collapsed in 2020 following the ‘Sheraton Move’ that saw a new Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration under Muhyiddin.

In GE15, Anwar lead his coalition Pakatan Harapan to win 82 out of the 220 seats that were contested.  The results of GE15 resulted in a hung parliament.

After five days of uncertainty, Anwar was named prime minister today.