The reconciliation that jolted Malaysian politics

Protesters stand behind a banner with Anwar Ibrahim’s image
Kuala Lumpur, Feb.17, 2015: supporters of imprisoned Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim hold a banner demanding his freedom in front of the Duta Court Complex (source: dpa)

  • If it manages to unify, Malaysia’s opposition has a shot at dislodging the country’s corruption-tarred prime minister
  • An unexpected alliance between two most prominent opposition leaders, until recently bitter foes, has altered the political landscape
  • Malaysian politics is in deep flux ahead of the 2018 general elections

An unexpected reconciliation between Malaysia’s two main opposition leaders, long-time archenemies Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim, has delivered a shock to the country’s political scene. Observing the developments anxiously is Malaysia’s besieged Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose troubles triggered the previously unthinkable rapprochement between his leading opponents.

The prime minister, who has held office since 2009, is implicated in a financial scandal involving the alleged diversion of more than $1 billion from state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) into his personal accounts. Mr. Najib denies any wrongdoing, but the crisis has energized the opposition, which is now reorganizing to topple the government.

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