Anwar wins re-election in Malaysia

Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister and inmate, Anwar Ibrahim (pictured), has won his parliamentary by-election, paving the way to eventually replace Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The authorities said Anwar, 71, received 71-per-cent support, defeating six other candidates with 31,016 votes, while his closest rival received 7,456 in the Port Dickson seat.

He received almost 6,000 votes more than his party secured in May’s general election.

The seat became available after the incumbent, 68-year-old Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, resigned on September 12 so Anwar could make his return to the cabinet.

Abdullah said he was happy with Anwar’s victory and would work with him to ensure the development of Port Dickson.

“When he won with a bigger majority than mine, it reflects the people’s support for him, our next prime minister.

“We have also proved that the critics who said Anwar was contesting here purposely for a personal motive were wrong. We wanted Anwar to win so that he can demonstrate his capability,” Abdullah said.

Anwar’s campaign centred around numerous promises to secure heavy spending in the area when he returns to frontline politics and presumably replaces the 93-year-old Mahathir.

“This, to my mind, is an important milestone, a vote of confidence for the government and the reform agenda, and the prime minister personally,” Anwar said.

He could not run in the May general election due to a 2015 conviction for sodomy, which he dismissed as politically motivated. He was freed after receiving a royal pardon days after Mahathir – his mentor turned jailer turned electoral partner – returned as prime minister.

Once a youthful member of the former ruling coalition, Anwar was convicted of homosexual sodomy and corruption after falling out with Mahathir in 1998.

He was freed in 2004, but once again convicted for sodomy in 2015.

Anwar campaigned in Port Dickson over the past two weeks to secure a mandate in the multiracial area, promising investment in development, clean government and a boost for the tourism sector. As the eighth Malaysian prime minister, Anwar would be well-placed to deliver on his promises.

The surprisingly energetic Mahathir, who was first prime minister for 22 years until 2003, says he expects to be in office for at least two years before handing power to Anwar.

Anwar says his focus will be on parliamentary reforms and he will not interfere in Mahathir’s premiership.

Rising star, again: Anwar Ibrahim. Picture credit: Wikimedia