Anwar Ibrahim: From political prisoner to Malaysian PM

© Hasnoor Hussain, Reuters

Anwar Ibrahim finally realised his over-two-decade dream of becoming Malaysia's prime minister on Thursday following a tortuous detour in the political wilderness that included prison stints for sodomy and corruption in what he maintained were politically motivated charges aimed at ending his career.

A day after the 2022 Malaysian general elections, the country's longstanding – and long suffering – opposition leader used the first person to teach journalists a lesson in resilience and political longevity. "This you need to learn from Anwar Ibrahim – patience, wait a long time, patience," the 75-year-old politician told reporters outside his Kuala Lumpur home.

In his decades-long quest for the top job, Ibrahim has tasted political triumph and defeat, led street protests for democratic reforms and strung together a multi-ethnic opposition coalition while behind bars. His bumpy road to the pinnacle of power came to completion on Thursday when he was sworn in as prime minister after days of political deadlock resulting from an inconclusive election.

Anwar was born into a family steeped in politics in August 1947. His father, Ibrahim Abdul Rahman, was a former member of parliament and his mother, Che Yan Hussein, was a political organiser in the northern state of Penang, in what was then part of the British empire. A firebrand youth activist during his student days, he has spoken of his admiration for Philippine revolutionary hero Jose Rizal, describing him as "a true Asian renaissance man".

Friends turn to foes

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