For supporters of Anwar Ibrahim, his appointment as Malaysia’s new prime minister has been a long time coming.
The 75-year-old opposition leader won the Southeast Asian nation’s top job on Thursday after its king intervened in the political crisis that followed last weekend’s inconclusive election and named him the country’s 10th prime minister.
A stunning comeback for Anwar, who has spent almost 30 years in opposition, including 10 years in prison on charges of adultery and corruption allegedly linked to politics.
Many Malaysians on Twitter responded with amused disbelief.
“I was at the airport when the 10 PM announcement was made,” wrote Twitter user @itsraenu_. “I heard people screaming and saw people smiling from ear to ear.”
I was at the airport when the 10 PM announcement was made and I heard people screaming and saw people smiling from ear to ear.
It might be a coincidence but it was not long after the airport started playing “Standing In the Eyes of the World”
– Raenu (@itsraenu_) November 24, 2022
“Anwar’s recovery is something to be encouraged for generations to come,” Twitter user @CHKen_2 wrote. “I waited 24 years for this to happen, he faced all kinds of political problems and endured arrest – but he never gave up on his principles. Keep believing.”
Anwar’s resume is something to be inspired by for generations to come. He waited 24 years for this, went through all kinds of political upheavals and even endured imprisonment— but he never gave up on his principles. Keep believing. #PM10 shirts
– Ken 🏴 (@CHKen_2) November 24, 2022
Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar looked set to take the top job in 1998 before being forced out of government after falling out with then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad over his handling of the Asian financial crisis. Anwar was then charged with sodomy – a crime in Malaysia – and corruption. Thousands of people took to the streets in defense of the charismatic leader and his call for “reformation” or change.
But he was imprisoned the following year.
Anwar was able to get an acquittal in a sodomy case in 2004 but was arrested again in 2015 on similar charges. From prison in 2018, he organized an opposition coalition and joined his former mentor Mahathir to topple Prime Minister Najib Razak amid a multibillion-dollar bribery scandal at state fund 1MDB.
At that time, Anwar was appointed as prime minister-in-waiting but was rejected again when the conflict resumed and Mahathir brought down his government. Amid the unrest, Najib’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which voters rejected in the 2018 election, returned to power, even as Najib himself was arrested after five charges linked to 1MDB.
For Anwar’s supporters, his rise to the top after years of turmoil is a testament to the power of perseverance.
Anwar “taught us not to lose our dreams”, wrote Twitter user @aidarazman. “PM is 75 years old? We have a lot to deal with.”
Anwar taught us not to give up on our dreams. PM is 75 years old? we have a lot to hear 😭😭😭
– aida (@aidarazman) November 24, 2022
“It’s hard not to get emotional watching this, knowing the struggles he and his family have gone through,” wrote @edwardkuruvilla, posting a photo of Anwar’s swearing-in ceremony. “May your authority be great,” he added.
Anwar Ibrahim is (finally) sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia! Seeing this is difficult, because of the problems he and his family faced. May your time be good, and may you return to Malaysia to glory. Our PM. #Change pic.twitter.com/Lr69dcbah5
— Edward Kuruvilla (@edwardkuruvilla) November 24, 2022
Many supporters of the new leader also mocked Mahathir, who is now 97 years old and is said to be thwarting Anwar’s ambitions. The former prime minister failed to defend his seat in Saturday’s election, but fell short of the 12.5 percent of votes needed to return the tens of thousands of Malaysian dollars he paid as election deposits.
“God made Mahathir live long enough to see Anwar Ibrahim become the Prime Minister of Malaysia,” tweeted @_nsyakinah.
God made Mahathir live long enough to see Anwar Ibrahim become the prime minister of Malaysia.
– Shakina (@_nsyakinah) November 24, 2022
“Don’t forget, Dr Mahathir didn’t just live for his money to run out of elections and his only political goal for the last 30 years, to stop Anwar Ibrahim from becoming Prime Minister, will finally happen… an invitation to attend Anwar’s swearing-in,” wrote a Twitter user @ amirulruslan.
Don’t forget, Dr Mahathir didn’t just live to see his money destroyed in the election and his only political goal for the last 30 years, to stop Anwar Ibrahim from becoming Prime Minister, will finally happen… he has been invited to attend Anwar’s swearing in.
– Amirul Ruslan (@amirulruslan) November 24, 2022
“What a year,” wrote @mhmgrgie. “Najib goes to jail. Mahathir loses his money and now Anwar is PM. History may be less. “…
What a year. Najib goes to jail, Mahathir loses his deposit and now Anwar is PM. History can be meaningless.
– MHM (@mhmgrgie) November 24, 2022
Anwar’s supporters also took a moment to praise his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who they say has been instrumental in his rise.
Twitter user @JustinTWJ described the 69-year-old as the “Mother of Reformasi”, noting her role in leading Anwar’s Reformasi movement after his imprisonment and her role in promoting the coalition that toppled Najib. “I can’t imagine he has the strength to do all this.”
– He gave him unconditional support and love for Anwar to become the PM of Malaysia.
– He became the leader of the opposition for a short time
– Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
– She saw her husband go to prison twice.
I can’t imagine the strength they have to do all this.
– not ordinary. (@JustinTWJ) November 24, 2022
Twitter user @tsimita wrote: “This amazing woman who was the heart of the Reformasi movement made this day happen! Women are born leaders!”
You know what really struck me about the swearing-in ceremony? Looking @drwanazizah sitting there, looking at the AI and swearing in. This wonderful woman who was his heart #Change transportation will make this day happen! Women are born leaders! We need more women in politics! #PM10 #Malaysia pic.twitter.com/QmFv0eXXjx
— Simitha Singam (@tsimita) November 24, 2022
For his part, Anwar said on Twitter that he will carry out the tasks assigned to him “with great humility”.
“Without your support and efforts, we would not be able to achieve this today,” he added.
– Anwar Ibrahim (@anwaribrahim) November 24, 2022