PORT DICKSON, Malaysia: Mr Anwar Ibrahim on Saturday (Oct 13) comfortably won a local election for the federal seat of Port Dickson, signalling his return to Malaysian parliament after three years and clearing the path for his promised rise to the prime minister post.
He took more than 31,000 votes to best his closest challenger Nazari Mokhtar of the Islamic Party by more than 23,000 votes – outperforming the previous winner who achieved a majority difference of 17,710.
Independent candidate Isa Samad, who was once chief minister of the wider Negeri Sembilan state, came in third with more than 4,000 votes.
While on the campaign trail Mr Anwar, leader of the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, had been widely tipped for victory as he enjoyed greater visibility along with the backing of the country’s political bigwigs – in particular, current premier and former nemesis Mahathir Mohamad.
Earlier this week the latter made an unprecedented show of support by turning up at a rally in Port Dickson – the first time the pair have shared a stage since Dr Mahathir, in his first tenure as prime minister, sacked Mr Anwar as his deputy in 1998.
He was convicted of sodomy thereafter and freed in 2004 after Dr Mahathir stepped down, only to be thrown back in jail in 2015 for sodomy again – both charges, Anwar has said, were politically motivated and trumped up.
Then, impelled by concerns over the leadership of former prime minister Najib Razak – another former protege – and his management of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad state fund, Dr Mahathir engineered a political return by teaming up with Mr Anwar in an unlikely opposition alliance.
What happened at the May polls was history and once Dr Mahathir was sworn in as prime minister – again – he obtained a royal pardon for the incarcerated Mr Anwar, and has pledged to hand the premiership reins over in about two years.