Anwar Ibrahim: The man who waited decades to be Malaysia's prime minister

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It took five days following a general election to finally settle the issue of who would lead the country. 

But for Anwar Ibrahim, his swearing-in on Thursday (Nov 24) as Malaysia's 10th prime minister ended a much longer wait.


Born in Aug 10, 1947 in Penang, Anwar graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Malay Studies at the University of Malaya. 

As an Islamic youth leader, he was arrested in 1974 during a student protest in support of rural farmers and served 20 months in jail.

In 1982 he joined then-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the main component party in the Barisan Nasional alliance.

In 1983, he was appointed minister of culture, youth and sports, before moving on to head the agriculture ministry in 1984 and the education ministry in 1986.

He then served as minister of finance from 1991 until 1998, simultaneously holding the office of deputy prime minister from 1993. However, he fell out with Mahathir over how to handle the 1997 Asian financial crisis.


Once seen as Mahathir’s successor, Anwar was subsequently fired in 1998. He was charged with sodomy, a crime in Malaysia, a move he said was aimed to put an end to his political career.

He led tens of thousands in a protest march in Kuala Lumpur on Sep 20, 1998, but was arrested hours later at his home.

A week later, Anwar appeared at his sodomy trial with a black eye, which then became the symbol of the political party he started. Later, the police chief at the time admitted to having assaulted Anwar in prison.

Anwar was sentenced to six years in jail for cor...

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