Anwar new Malaysian Prime Minister; pro-shariha law party claimed most Parliament seats

Anwar Ibrahim was appointed Malaysia’s Prime Minister on Thursday after a general election in which Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS was declared biggest winner. Photo: CNA

On Thursday, a week after the general election, opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, was officially recognized as Malaysia’s new Prime Minister. This was reported by Swedish news media, SVT. Anwar is the fourth Prime Minister in Malaysia in four years.

Neither Anwar or former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin succeeded in securing the amount of parliament seats necessary to secure a simple majority and form a government, and both parties declared themselves election winners. The deadlock was overcome when Malaysia’s third largest party agreed to form a government with Anwar as Prime Minister.

However, the greatest winner of the general election was the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), an ally of Muhyiddin’s bloc, claiming 49 seats, more than doubling the amount of seats the party claimed in 2018.

PAS, having close connections to Taliban and backing Islamic Shariah law, is now the single largest party in Malaysia, which, according to Danish newspaper, Politiken, has sent shock waves through Southeast Asia. The newspaper reported experts are now talking about a political Islamic wave that could potentially spread to other countries in the region in which the world’s largest part of the Muslim population lives.

James Chin, Professor in Asian Studies at University of Tasmania in Australia, said to Politiken PAS now has great political power and has been very successful in running an underground campaign on TikTok in which popular, religious influencers have encouraged young people to vote accordingly to their Muslim identity.

– Many Malaysians, especially young people, are tired of the endemic corruption which has been characteristic for Malaysian politics. PAS’ rhetoric has been focussed on moral justice and non-corruption and that message has had a wide appeal, said Vedi Hadiz, Chief of Asian Studies at University of Melbourne to Politiken.

Newly appointed Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has promised to unite Malaysia’s religious and ethnic groups although he, politically, is dependent of the support of PAS and its leader, Abdul Hadi Awang.

According to Politiken, Awang has previously spoken of other religions as being a threat to Malaysia which should be fought against, while he has accused the Presidents of both USA and Ukraine to be Zionists and criticized NATO for causing the war in Ukraine.

James Chin was not certain how PAS’ political power will be evident, but was convinced Malaysia will evolve into a much more conservative country in the future and added the conservative powers has attempted to demand all Islamic-broadcasted television programs.

Vedi Hadiz agreed shariah laws will be more consistent in the political Malaysian landscape after the election although also stressing a need for clarity on how much of PAS’ success is rooted in pure support of Islamic politics, and how much is rooted in the populations anger towards additional parties.


About Jeannette Hinrup

Jeannette Sophie Hinrup is a Danish environmental geographer traveling South East Asia while writing for ScandAsia.

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