Anwar Ibrahim Biography

Dato’ Seri Haji Anwar bin Ibrahim is the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia. He was born on August 10, 1947, and has been in office since November 24, 2022.   He was the 12th and 16th Leader of the Opposition from August 2008 to March 2015 and again from May 2020 to November 2022. Since May 2020, he has been the 2nd Chairman of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, the 2nd President of the People’s Justice Party (PKR), and the MP for Tambun. He was also Deputy Prime Minister and held many other Cabinet positions in the Barisan Nasional (BN) government from 1982 to 1998, which was led by the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar got his start in politics when he was one of the people who started the youth group Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM).

After joining the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the main party in the BN coalition that has been in power for a long time, Anwar held several cabinet positions in the 1980s and 1990s. During the 1990s, he was Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. He was also a key figure in the country’s response to the Asian financial crisis of 1997.   In 1998, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad took away all of his jobs. He then led the Reformasi movement, which was a protest against the government. Anwar went to jail in April 1999 after a trial for sodomy and corruption that was criticized by human rights groups  and several foreign governments. He was released in 2004 after his conviction was overturned.

From 2008 to 2015, he was back in power as Leader of the Opposition. He brought together opposition parties into the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition, which ran unsuccessfully in the general elections of 2008 and 2013. He didn’t agree

with the results of the 2013 elections, so he led a protest. In the 2014 Kajang Move, Anwar tried to become the head of government for Selangor. This caused a nine-month political crisis that ended when he was given another five years in prison for sodomy in 2015.

Anwar joined Mahathir Mohamad’s new coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), while he was still in jail. This coalition went on to win the 2018 general election. Mahathir laid out a plan for Anwar to take over as Prime Minister after a period of time that was not specified. Anwar was let out of prison after Yang di-Pertuan Agong Muhammad V gave him a royal pardon.  He won the 2018 Port Dickson by-election and went back to parliament while his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, was the PH government’s Deputy Prime Minister. During the 2020–22 Malaysian political crisis, the coalition broke up. In May 2020, Muhyiddin Yassin became the new leader of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, and Anwar became the Leader of the Opposition for the second time. On November 24, 2022, Anwar took his oath of office as the tenth prime minister of Malaysia.

Anwar has long fought for Islamic democracy and for changes to the way Malaysia’s government works. Anwar has worked at a number of academic institutions outside of politics.


Anwar daughter is Nurul Izzah Anwar who got married to Yin Shao Loong


Early Career

Anwar was born on August 10, 1947, in Penang. He went to the University of Malaya and got a Bachelor’s degree in Malay Studies.

As a leader of Islamic youth, he was arrested in 1974 during a student protest to help farmers in the countryside. He was sent to jail for 20 months.

In 1982, he joined the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the main party in the Barisan Nasional coalition. UMNO was led by Mahathir Mohamad, who was prime minister at the time.

In 1983, he was named minister of culture, youth, and sports. In 1984, he became minister of agriculture, and in 1986, he became minister of education.

Then, from 1991 to 1998, he was the minister of finance, and from 1993 on, he was also the deputy prime minister. But he and Mahathir had a disagreement about how to handle the Asian financial crisis of 1997.


Jail Term

Anwar was once thought to be Mahathir’s successor, but in 1998, he was fired. He was accused of sodomy, which is illegal in Malaysia. He said that this was done to end his political career.

On September 20, 1998, he led tens of thousands of people in a protest march in Kuala Lumpur. He was arrested at his home a few hours later.

A week later, Anwar went to his sodomy trial with a black eye, which became the symbol of the political party he started. Later, the head of police at the time admitted that he had beaten Anwar in jail.

In 1999, Anwar got six years in prison for bribery, and in 2000, he got another nine years for sodomy. The two sentences came right after each other.

At a press conference in 1998, Mahathir said about Anwar, “This man can’t be a leader in a country like Malaysia.”

Anwar was released from prison in 2004, but he was sent back to jail for sodomy in 2015. This was two years after he led the opposition to its best election results yet, winning the popular vote for the first time even though he didn’t get a majority in parliament.

He kept working as a leader of the opposition while he was in jail.


Political Resurgence

In 2018, Anwar and Mahathir put their differences aside and agreed to work together to get rid of the Barisan Nasional party, which was in power at the time and was accused of corruption by many people.

Since then, Najib Razak, the leader of Barisan, has been jailed for a scandal involving the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad and involving billions of dollars.

After they won, Mahathir asked the king to forgive Anwar and said he would give power to him in two years. But after 22 months, the coalition fell apart, leaving Anwar out in the cold once more.


Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition won the most seats in the general election of 2022, but not enough to get a majority.

Before the elections, some people told him to step down because they thought he had been in office for too long.

When asked by Reuters if this election would be his last, Anwar said that he knew his limits.

“It’s up to the people to decide whether I’m important or not in the next few years,” he said.

After the election, there was a political deadlock because both the winning party and the rival Perikatan Nasional said they had enough votes to form a government. The king stepped in to break the deadlock by calling for a unity government.

The palace confirmed Anwar’s appointment on November 24, and he took his oath of office a few hours later. This was the end of a decades-long quest to become Malaysia’s prime minister.