Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim named PM candidate as election nears

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MALAYSIA'S Anwar Ibrahim has been named as the Pakatan Harapan coalition's prime minister candidate, as the South-east Asian nation gears up for a general election next month.

The long-time opposition leader is the second politician to offer himself as premier in the national vote that will be held on Nov 19. The move pits Anwar, 75, against caretaker premier Ismail Sabri Yaakob, 62, who was endorsed by the ruling United Malays National Organisation in April.

Anwar, who is an incumbent MP for Port Dickson, said he would contest the Tambun parliamentary seat previously won by a minister in Ismail's cabinet. "I am the leader and I must be brave enough to contest here," he said at the Pakatan Harapan convention in Perak state on Thursday (Oct 20) night.

This is the second time Anwar is helming the opposition election campaign, and the move may be one of his last chances to lead Malaysia. Anwar had been in line to take power from Mahathir Mohamad after the two joined together in the Pakatan Harapan coalition to win the 2018 election. Yet Mahathir repeatedly delayed handing over power, prompting divisions within the ruling bloc to fester - eventually leading to its collapse in 2020. Anwar made several more unsuccessful bids to become premier in the wake of Mahathir's resignation.

Anwar was seen as Mahathir's successor in the 1990s before he was fired in the wake of the Asian Financial Crisis, after which he spent six years in prison on convictions for abuse of power and sodomy. He was released from prison a second time in 2018 after the king granted him a pardon following Pakatan Harapan's electoral victory.

Anwar said that upon becoming prime minister, his priority would be to combat corruption and tackle issues of poverty among all races. "Our battle is not one to just seek power but is against corruption and racial politics," he said on Thursday. BLOOMBERG



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