Anwar Ibrahim is making history as Malaysia’s tenth prime minister
Longtime Malaysian statesman Anwar Ibrahim is the country’s new prime minister after the Southeast Asian country’s palace announced Thursday, ending a long-running election deadlock.
After a meeting with state rulers and in accordance with the Malaysian constitution, the king appointed Anwar as the Southeast Asian country’s tenth prime minister. The king said in an official statement that Anwar will be sworn in at 5 p.m. local time.
“Whether you lost or won the election, please stand together for our beloved country,” the king said, according to a translation by CNBC.
“It is important that our nation be free from political instability because the country needs a strong and stable government to build the country and strengthen the economy.”
He asked the elected members of parliament to serve the nation well and expressed his gratitude to the state rulers for their help and insights in solving the crisis.
Anwar’s appointment ends a more than 20-year wait for a former deputy prime minister who served as opposition leader for two decades amid prison terms and political coups.
Social media erupted as Malaysians shared “tahniah” or congratulations to Anwar. Others wrote “Daulat Tuanku” or “long live the king” on Facebook and Twitter, following the king’s decision.
Some netizens said they were “closing for the day” or “leaving the office early” to see the swearing-in at the Istana Negara, the royal palace.
“It’s been a damn time,” one person wrote on Twitter. Another said his parents, who had witnessed Anwar’s political struggles, wept over his appointment.
Anwar was former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s deputy in the 1990s before he was jailed for corruption and sodomy.
Malaysian-listed shares were in the green ahead of the announcement, but rose shortly after with the benchmark KLCI up 3%. Telecommunications group Axiata Group Bhd was among the top gainers, up more than 7%, while rubber glove maker Top Glove climbed 6%. Genting Malaysia also rose by 5.16% and CIMB by 3.45%.
The Malaysian ringgit also jumped more than a percent to 4.5070 against the dollar.
Malaysia’s general election on Saturday led to the country’s first hung parliament, prompting the king to ask the leading coalitions to present their alliances on Tuesday to form a government and nominate his preferred prime minister.
Anwar Ibrahim is one of the trailblazers of the campaign during the 15th general election in Malaysia.
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But Tuesday’s meeting yielded no results instead there was chaos within kingmaker coalitions such as Barisan Nasional over which leading coalition to support.
In the elections on Saturday, Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition — the largest in the country — won the most seats with 82, but still fell short of the 112 needed to form a government. The current ruling coalition Perikatan Nasional was in second place with 73 seats.
Parties and coalitions must win a simple majority of 112 seats in parliament, out of 222 seats available, to form a government.
Barisan was not re-elected after former prime minister and former Barisan Nasional president Najib Razak fell from grace due to his involvement in the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
But just as Anwar was poised to take the lead in 2020, some Pakatan members defected to form a rival coalition, Perikatan Nasional. The defection led to the collapse of the Pakatan government.
— CNBC’s Jihye Lee contributed to this report.
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