New Malaysian PM claims that the cost of living is top concern
New Malaysian PM claims that the cost of living is top concern

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's newly elected Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced on Friday that his main concern would be the cost of living when he takes office amid a slowing economy and a deeply divided nation as a result of a close election.

Anwar, 75, was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday, marking a three-decade political journey from a student protest leader to a prisoner of unnatural sex and leader of the opposition. Anwar was once close to veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar, elected by Malaysia's king after a close election on Thursday, said the economy was his top priority and his cabinet would be smaller than previous administrations.

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After reporting for duty at the Prime Minister's Office, he told a press conference that his top priority right now was to address the cost of living.

Anwar had previously said his cabinet would include two deputy prime ministers, one from the former ruling coalition Barisan and another from one of Malaysia Borneo's smaller political parties.

Anwar announced that he would call for a vote of confidence in parliament on 19 December to demonstrate his control over the lower house. His appointment ended an unprecedented five days of post-election crisis.

Former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Anwar's rival, refused to give in and challenged Anwar to a demonstration of his parliamentary majority.

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However, Muhyiddin announced on Friday that he had accepted Anwar's appointment and that his bloc would serve as the opposition.
The election campaign on Saturday pitted Muhyiddin's mostly conservative ethnic-Malay, Muslim coalition against Anwar's progressive, multi-racial coalition.

Anwar's supporters expressed optimism that his administration would prevent a resurgence of long-standing tensions between the majority ethnic Malay Muslims and the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

With 82 seats, Anwar's Pakatan Harapan alliance won the most seats in Saturday's election, followed by Muhyiddin's Perikatan Nasional Group with 73. A simple majority of 112 was required to form the government.

Only 30 seats were won by the long-ruling Barisan Bloc, the worst election result for the coalition controlling politics since independence in 1957.

Anwar claimed on Thursday that a coalition of Barisan and Malaysian Borneo parties had vowed to support his administration.
He announced on Friday that a second Borneo bloc had joined, giving him the support of more than two-thirds of the members of the 222-seat parliament.

Anwar's administration will be able to amend the constitution with a two-thirds majority. No Malaysian government has had such a majority in the lower house since 2008.

Muhyiddin's bloc includes the PAS, whose electoral success alarmed the Indian and Chinese ethnic communities, most of whose members practice other religions.

Since the vote, authorities have issued warnings about a rise in inter-ethnic conflict on social media, and TikTok, a platform for short videos, said this week it was on high alert for content violating its rules.

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Next year's budget, which was presented before the election but has not yet been approved, is another pressing matter that Anwar must handle.

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