Monday, August 18, 2008

Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim was Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1993-1998. He also served as Minister of Finance for Malaysia from 1991-1998. Highly respected for his principled stance against corruption and his skillful management of the Malaysian economy during the turbulent period of its financial crisis, Anwar is also viewed as one of the forefathers of the Asian Renaissance and a leading proponent of greater cooperation among civilizations. He is ardent supporter of democracy and is an authoritative voice bridging the widening gap between East and West.

Anwar is currently the de facto leader of the Justice Party (KeADILan) of Malaysia. He is an outspoken opposition leader in Malaysia and plans to return to active political life in April 2008 with a bid for a seat in Parliament. Since 2004 he has held lecturing positions at Oxford University, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. In March 2006 he was named Honorary President of the London based think-tank Accountability and he is also the Chairman of the Foundation for the Future.


Born in Penang in 1947, Anwar received his early education in his hometown before gaining admission to the prestigious Malay College at Kuala Kangsar. He continued his studies at the University of Malaya which was the vantage point from which he witnessed the tragedy of the 1969 race riots and . There he led protests against the Vietnam War and demonstrations on domestic social issues such as corruption, poverty and the plight of the marginalized. In recognition of his leadership and intellectual abilities he was appointed as a member to the Ad hoc Advisory Group to the Secretary General on Youth Affairs in 1973.

By the time he completed his university studies Anwar was already a popular national figure actively pursuing the reform agenda. In 1971 he formed the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) to promote and uphold the principles of moderate Islam and to campaign for moral upliftment and social justice. A weak economy in the early 1970s caused great hardship among some sectors of the rural population of Malaysia . Anwar, who was at that time president of the multi-ethnic National Youth Council, was detained without trial for 22 months for championing the cause of hard-pressed poor farmers in a northern Malaysian state.


Anwar was invited to join the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the ruling party, and the government in 1982, by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. His rise in the party and in the government was meteoric. He was elected in 1984, as Leader of UMNO Youth and in 1986, became a Vice-President of UMNO. He served as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports in 1983; Minister of Agriculture in 1984; and Minister of Education in 1986, prior to his tenure as Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in the 90s.

As a public servant in Malaysia Anwar was unrelenting in his campaign against corruption and has been committed to the ideals of empowerment, justice, and equity. He has stressed the need for internal reforms in order to reinforce civil and democratic institutions and to expand the democratic space. Some of these themes, articulated in his book Menangani Perubahan (Managing Change), were seen to be departing from the authoritarian ideals of Mahathir Mohamad, and sowed the seeds that eventually led to the confrontation between the two leaders. As acting Prime Minister in 1997, for example, he introduced the controversial but effective Anti-Corruption Legislation which held public officials accountable for corrupt practices even after their departure from public service. His emphasis on social justice, poverty eradication, education and civil society has guided his career in government to the present.

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