Saturday, March 23, 2019 | ePaper

The politics of maturity: Anwar Ibrahim allowed Mahathir to be Prime Minister

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DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD was sworn in as Malaysia's seventh Prime Minister on Thursday night (May 10), hours after former premier Najib Razak said that he accepted the will of the people that handed Barisan Nasional (BN) a shock defeat which ended the UMNO-led pact's six decades in power. Without the backing of the leader of the main opposition Anwar Ibrahim, Mahathir alone would have no chance of defeating the government with a very strong and well-oiled election machinery.
Following a series of press conferences in which he asserted that his Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition clearly won Wednesday's vote and agreed to back him as Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir was granted an audience with the King and officially declared Prime Minister. PH and its ally Parti Warisan Sabah won 121 seats in the 222-seat Federal Parliament in the keenly contested May 9 general election, while BN secured 79 seats.
Having defeated the long-ruling BN, which he headed until 2003, and then left in 2016 after calling for Datuk Seri Najib's ouster over the scandal at state-owned fund 1MDB, Dr Mahathir had earlier asked to be sworn in "as soon as possible" after his PH crossed the threshold of a simple majority of 112 seats by early Thursday morning.
It is a sign of the remarkable maturity of Malaysian politics that Pakatan Harapan (PH; English: "Alliance of Hope"), a political alliance that was founded in 2015 as a coalition of left-leaning and centre parties managed to form the largest coalition and the ruling party in the Parliament of Malaysia, defeated the UMNO which had been in power for over six decades.
What is most interesting about this alliance is that it is led by Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who are noted as the Leader and President respectively of the alliance, while Dr Mahathir was chosen the Chairman. This is the same Anwar Ibrahim who was jailed and beaten up on sodomy charges by Dr Mahathir back in 1999--a situation which removed him from the vestiges of power for over 20 years.
However Anwar Ibrahim is set to make a comeback as Dr Mahathir said he would remain PM only until 2020, which could make him potentially the next PM. Mahathir has promised to secure a royal pardon for him. The way in which these two men have overcome their personal bitterness and animosity and come together to fight for the good of their nation speaks volumes about the maturity and honesty which prevails in Malaysian politics.
The fact that these two men were not even on speaking terms for such a long time but compromised and came together to fight what they saw as a corruption eating away at the fundamentals of the Malaysian government speaks volumes about their patriotism and determination to work for the common good. It seems that the Malaysian voters have reciprocated and accepted their message and given them the power to work for the benefit of the people. They must make the best of it.


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