Saturday, July 20, 2024


Anwar Ibrahim, or his full name Anwar bin Ibrahim was born on August 10, 1947 in Cherok To’Kun, Bukit Mertajam, Penang. He is a political figure and a moderate reformer. He served in Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s cabinet and was entrusted to hold several ministerial portfolios, and and the post of Deputy Prime Minister, until his firing on September 2, 1998 due to dubious allegations. People’s Justice Party (KEADLIAN) was founded in 1999 to create a just and virtuous country that holds the idea of the separation of powers. After the release in 2004, he swiftly began his campaign for reform and change and played an important role in highlighting the issue of separation of powers. However, he was once again charged in 2014 and imprisoned.

Anwar was born into a political family, where both his parents was a major figure in UMNO, and that upbringing influenced him to enter politics in the late 60s by leading a student movement at the University of Malaya. Not long after that in 1971, he founded the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) and holding the position of President until 1982. He was also involved in a student demonstration in solidarity with the rubber tappers in Baling in 1974. Although a frequent critic of the policies of Barisan Nasional-UMNO government, Anwar finally accepted Dr Mahathir’s offer to join UMNO and the government. Anwar ascents swiftly, becoming the Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture (1983), Agriculture (1984), Education (1986-1991), and appointed to be the Minister of Finance (1991-1998), and Deputy Prime Minister (1993-1998). Malaysia progresses under his leadership with a budget surplus for several years. Malaysia also enjoyed an era of unprecedented prosperity and growth that drove renowned financial publication Euromoney to name him ‘Top Four Finance Minister’ and in 1996 Asiamoney magazine awarded him with the title ‘Finance Minister Of The Year’.

When Malaysia was engulfed with the 97-98 Asian Financial Crisis, Anwar who was at the time serving at the Ministry of Finance formulated an economical approach and rejected government-assisted bailout to save financially-stricken firms affected by the crisis. The move bore fruit and improved the economic situation in the country, and he was accorded with recognition, among others are ‘the Asian of the Year’ by the magazine Newsweek International.

But his actions were not received warmly with Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his allies. Anwar was removed from the government and party (UMNO) on September 2, 1998 and imprisoned in 1999. He was shamed and humiliated, families included. His trial and incarceration drew international condemnations which characterised his charges as ‘politically motivated’ on account of dubious charges.

Mahathir resigns from his position as the Prime Minister in 2003 and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi succeeded him. Anwar Ibrahim was released in 2004 when the High Court ruled that the evidence used to convict him could not be relied upon. Not long after his release, Anwar was invited to teach at St. Anthony’s College in Oxford, School of Foreign Services at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C, and School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University in Maryland. Anwar was later appointed to be the Honorary President of AccountAbility and Chairman of Foundation for the Future.

In 2007, the government of Malaysia led by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was inundated with multiple scandals involving the economy and the administration. During GE12 in the following year, the oppositional alliance at the time made their mark on history when they successfully formed state governments in Penang, Kedah, Perak, and Selangor, aside from retaining the state government in Kelantan, and gaining more than 80 seats in Parliament. And for the very first time in Malaysian political history, Barisan Nasional was denied supermajority in Parliament by the PAS-KEADILAN-DAP alliance. Immediately afterward, Anwar, Lim Kit Siang and Abdul Hadi Awang coalesced and founded Pakatan Rakyat as a vehicle to face off against Barisan Nasional. Calls grew demanding that Abdullah Ahmad Badawi resign due to the disastrous performance by Barisan Nasional during GE12. Anwar returned to Parliament via Permatang Pauh by-election in August 2008 even when facing the same kind of accusation, and appointed as the Leader of the Opposition in Dewan Rakyat. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi gave in to the pressure to step down and Najib Razak succeeded Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2009.

Anwar was fully released in 2012 by the High Court. During GE13, Barisan Nasional was once again denied the 2/3 majority in Parliament, and Pakatan Rakyat retained the state governments of Kelantan, Selangor, Penang and lost Kedah. Nonetheless, Pakatan Rakyat gained 9 seats in Parliament. During the Kajang by-election, Anwar was rumoured to be the Chief Minister of Selangor, succeeding Abdul Khalid Ibrahim. The High Court which released him in 2012 overturned the ruling and he was imprisoned in 2015 for five years. Anwar categorically denied the allegations as ‘political conspiracy’ and an attempt to foil his progress.

When Najib’s scandal involving 1MDB was haemorrhaging in late 2016, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced his partnership with Pakatan Harapan by forming the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (BERSATU) and promised to propose Royal Pardon to secure the release of Anwar if they were to receive a mandate from the people. He also promised to hand over power to Anwar in less than 2 years. During GE14, Pakatan Harapan succeeded in defeating Barisan Nasional with all the candidates from the components of Pakatan Harapan from BERSATU, AMANAH and DAP contested under the logo of KEADILAN for all the Parliamentary and State (DUN) seats. It proved to be a working formula and Pakatan Harapan was able to form state governments in Perak, Kedah, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, and Sabah.

As promised, Anwar was released through Royal Pardon and agreed upon by Agong Sultan Muhammad V on the reason of ‘travesty of justice’ in Anwar’s jailing. On September 2018, Anwar returned to Parliament when he won the by-election in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, with a whopping majority compared to the result in GE14. Now heading the Caucus of Reform and Governance in Parliament, Anwar promised to elevate the Parliament as an institution that acts as an effective and incorruptible counterbalance in the effort to mend and create a new system for the country.

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