Malaysia’s An­war Ibrahim re­turns to front­line pol­i­tics in big poll win

Oman Daily Observer - - ASIA -

PORT DICKSON: An­war Ibrahim won an over­whelm­ing man­date in a par­lia­men­tary by-election on Satur­day, of­fi­cials said, set­ting the stage for his re­turn to front­line Malaysian pol­i­tics and seal­ing the once-jailed op­po­si­tion fig­ure’s re­mark­able res­ur­rec­tion.

Fig­ures re­leased by the Election Com­mis­sion showed he got more than 71 per cent of the to­tal votes cast in a seven-way con­test which in­cluded a for­mer aide who lodged the sodomy charges that landed An­war in prison for a sec­ond time in 2014.

“I am happy with the re­sults. Al­lah bless us all,” An­war said af­ter the vic­tory, which marks the charis­matic politi­cian’s stun­ning po­lit­i­cal come­back from prison to par­lia­ment.

Win­ning the seat was a key re­quire­ment for An­war to suc­ceed 93-year-old Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamad, who jailed his for­mer pro­tege and heir ap­par­ent on sodomy and cor­rup­tion charges in 1998 when their re­la­tion­ship soured.

Ma­hathir re­turned to the premier­ship this year af­ter a shock election win, say­ing he would stay in power for only two years be­fore hand­ing the reins to An­war.

An­war was in prison when he forged an un­likely al­liance with Ma­hathir in a bid to un­seat then-prime min­is­ter Na­jib Razak, who had called elec­tions for May amid mas­sive cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions.

Un­der­scor­ing the drama of Satur­day’s vote, one of An­war’s six chal­lengers is the ex-aide who had ac­cused him of sodomy, still il­le­gal in the coun­try.

Polls opened un­der cloudy skies at 8:00 am and closed nine and a half hours later in the sleepy south­ern coastal town of Port Dickson, home to a size­able eth­nic Chi­nese com­mu­nity that has tra­di­tion­ally been one of An­war’s pil­lars of sup­port.

“We are vot­ing for the next pre­mier. We need an in­flu­en­tial leader to bring long-over­due progress to Port Dickson,” said 60-year-old voter Lee Tian Hock.

“This morn­ing, I prayed to Al­lah for a big win for An­war,” re­tired truck driver Mat Taib, a mem­ber of the coun­try’s eth­nic Malay ma­jor­ity, said.

“I want him to be our eighth prime min­is­ter.”

About 100 sup­port­ers greeted An­war with shouts of “Re­for­masi” — his bat­tle cry while in op­po­si­tion — as he ar­rived at a polling sta­tion.

“I will see you in par­lia­ment on Mon­day,” a smil­ing An­war told a re­porter ear­lier on Satur­day.

— Reuters

An­war Ibrahim vis­its a polling sta­tion dur­ing the by-election in Port Dickson.

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