A quarter of a century after he was ousted as deputy prime minister, and jailed on politically motivated charges, Anwar Ibrahim has become prime minister of Malaysia, having secured a parliamentary majority following the November general election.
It is a remarkable comeback for a leader who has spent nearly a decade in prison in two separate spells and has been one of Asia’s loudest voices for democracy and reform.
But Anwar Ibrahim has only been able to get the top job by forming a coalition with the United Malays National Organisation, which ruled Malaysia from independence in 1957 until 2018, and which he has spent much of the last two decades opposing after he was forced out of UMNO in 1998.
Will this unlikely coalition fare better than the last one led by Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) which collapsed two years after an unprecedented election victory in 2018?
How will he live up to the expectations he has raised for reform while governing alongside UMNO – a party that has been damaged by high-profile corruption scandals including 1MDB?
Do the election results reflect a consolidation of democracy in Malaysia at a time when authoritarianism is resurgent elsewhere in the region?
What kind of international leadership will he offer as Asia faces intensifying competition between the US and China?