Anwar Ibrahim is the incumbent Prime Minister.
This man has been through the ups and downs, the thick and thin of Malaysia’s political system. Now, he is finally at the top of the mountain.
Here are some facts you should know about him.
As of 2022, Anwar is 75 years old. He was born on 10 August 1947.
He is married to former Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and together they have five daughters and a son.
As we all know, Anwar is the new Prime Minister. Clearly, he has some good political genes.
Anwar’s father, Ibrahim bin Abdul Rahman, was a UMNO Member of Parliament for Sebarang Perai Central between 1959 and 1969.
As for his mother, Che Yan Binti Hussein was a housewife active in UMNO grassroots politics.
As a student, Anwar was president of the National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students. He was also the president of the University of Malaya Malay Language Society (translated from Malay).
In 1971, he was elected as the 2nd President of the Malaysian Youth Council.
From 1975 to 1982, Anwar served as a representative for Asia Pacific of the World Assembly for Muslim Youth (WAMY).
Also, in 1981, he co-founded the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in the USA.
With all these accolades under his name, it’s not hard to understand that he was impressive as a youth (even if you don’t know what the positions mean).
Developing Political Years
Anwar entered Malaysia’s political field in 1982 by joining Mahathir Mohamad’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
He quickly climbed in popularity and in position.
In 1983, he began his first ministerial role as the Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports. In one short year, he changed to become the Minister of Agriculture. Lastly, he became the Minister of Education in 1986.
In 1998, a book called 50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister (translated from Malay) was circulated amongst members of the UMNO General Assembly.
At the time, UMNO was the dominant party, and Anwar was serving in it as the Deputy Prime Minister. In other words, he was next in line for glory.
The book contained graphic allegations of Anwar engaging in homosexual acts, as well as claims that he was corrupt, which tarnished his reputation in the party.
Shortly after, on 2 September 1998, Anwar was fired from the Cabinet.
1998 Sodomy Trial
Concurrently, he was under police investigation for his alleged acts.
It was claimed that Anwar had sodomised Azizan Abu Bakar between January and March 1993.
Azizan was the driver for Anwar’s wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Along with the driver, Anwar’s adoptive brother, Sukma Dermawan Sasmita Atmadja, also alleged that he had engaged in homosexual acts with him as well.
On 29 September 1998, Anwar appeared in court with a bruised eye and pleaded innocent to sodomy.
How did he get the black eye?
Mahathir Mohamad, the then-prime minister, along with national police chief Tan Sri Rahim Noor, explained that the injury was “self-inflicted” and caused by “pressing a glass over his eyes”.
Only after a Royal Commission was convened did Rahim Noor admit to the act. Noor was then jailed and fined for the offence.
Meanwhile, during the sodomy trial, Azizan claimed in court that he was sodomised up to 15 times by Anwar in luxury hotels and condominiums.
As proof, a mattress was presented to the court, supposedly stained with Anwar’s semen.
Logically, Anwar denied having anything to do with the mattress, although the DNA tests came out positive. DNA taken from 10 out of 13 semen stains on the mattress matched Anwar’s DNA.
While Anwar’s defence team claimed that Anwar was framed, the High Court Judge rejected the explanation, and Anwar was found guilty on 8 August 2000. He was sentenced to nine years in prison for sodomy.
On 5 September 2004, he won his appeal against the sodomy conviction in a majority 2-1 ruling and was freed.
The judge reasoned that there was no evidence to prove the offence, and Azizan, being the only source for the date of offence, showed inconsistency and contradiction when giving evidence and was, therefore, not a reliable source.
1998 Corruption Trial
During that time, sodomy was not the only allegation brought down against him.
As mentioned above, he was also suspected of corruption. On four counts of corruption, he could be jailed for a maximum of 14 years and/or fined RM20,000 (~S$6,000) for each count.
In the end, he was given four years to serve behind bars, on top of his nine-year sentence.
2008 Sodomy Trial
Anwar Ibrahim has been charged with sodomy not once but twice.
(FYI, homosexuality is illegal according to the Malaysian Penal and Islamic laws)
If you thought the Islamic blasphemy ended there, you’d be completely wrong.
In just four short years after his release, Anwar got back to doing the “alleged deed” again.
On 28 June 2008, a political aide to Anwar, Mohammad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, lodged a police report claiming that he had been forcibly sodomised by Anwar.
Azlan was 24 and Anwar was 61.
When it was quickly deduced that it was unlikely for a man nearly three times his age to overpower him, Azlan changed his complaint to “homosexual conduct by persuasion”.
Azlan claimed that it had happened on 26 June 2008 at a condominium in Bukit Damansara, where Anwar invited him to engage in carnal intercourse.
The second trial opened on 3 February 2010, where long proceedings happened before reaching a conclusion. After two years, on 9 January 2012, the High Court acquitted and discharged Anwar of sodomisation on the basis that the evidence provided in DNA testing was unreliable.
Woohoo, everything is solved?
Unfortunately, no. The prosecution filed its petition of appeal in July 2012, and Anwar was finally found guilty again.
On 7 March 2014, he was sentenced to five years in jail by the Court of Appeal.
With all the controversy surrounding this man, it would be hard to envision how he could possibly bounce back.
Well, I guess that would begin in 2018 when he walked free from prison after receiving a royal pardon.
It was Pakatan Harapan’s first big success after Mahathir Mohamad’s win over the corrupt UMNO with respect to the 1MDB scandal.
The royal pardon cleared Anwar’s name entirely.
Like a heaven-sent disinfectant, it wiped off the three prison sentences and the 11 years in jail from Anwar’s record.
“Today is a new beginning. It is a new chapter in our country,” Anwar said.
After his release, he was slated to helm the reigns from Dr Mahathir in two years, as per their agreement for having Anwar work on Mahathir’s side in exposing Najib Rasak.
For context, their agreement was that Anwar would swap sides from Najib’s team to Mahathir’s. By hamstringing Najib, Mahathir could guarantee his win in the 2018 elections, thereby making Pakatan Harapan the ruling party and crippling Barisan Nasional.
In return, Mahathir would petition for Sultan Muhammad V to pardon Anwar, as well as hand over the position to Anwar after two years.
Well, this seems like a solid plan, right?
Anwar can pardon himself and become Prime Minister, kill two birds with one stone?
I wish I could say it’s all sunshine and lollipops from there, but as per the nature of Malaysian politics, it is unpredictable.
To Anwar’s dismay, things went south again.
On 24 February 2020, Dr Mahathir, instead of formally handing over his prime ministerial role to Anwar, resigned without informing Pakatan Harapan party leaders.
Ultimately, the Pakatan-led government collapsed, and Anwar’s succession was voided.
“We did not know earlier but we know now,” Anwar said.
“I was duped by Mahathir in Malaysian PM succession plan.”
You might want to watch this video to the end to know what happened:
Wow, Anwar has come so far since 24 years ago.
This year, he finally made it to the peak and became the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
In the GE15, Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan won the most seats (again), securing 82 out of 222 seats. His main competitor was former Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional, which had 73 seats.
Both were short of the simple majority and could not form a government, which meant that they had to form alliances to secure their position.
In the end, neither party came up with an alliance and both rejected the idea of working together.
As such, the Malaysian King made the final call by choosing the new prime minister himself. Along with the opinions of his fellow rulers, he finally came to the conclusion that Anwar would become Prime Minister.
On Thursday (24 November 2022), Anwar Ibrahim finally became Prime Minister.
Watch this to know why this might not be the end of the saga after all:
Featured image: Mohd Nasirruddin Yazid / Shutterstock