AN, KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim won a confidence vote in parliament on Monday, cementing his leadership of a new unity government after an election last month produced no clear winner.
Anwar, capping his three-decade political journey, became premier in late November, forming a unity government with several rival political blocs following polls that resulted in an unprecedented hung parliament.
He convened the first parliament session on Monday to prove his majority after former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin questioned his legitimacy and to remove doubts over his authority to govern and the stability of his administration.
The confidence motion was passed through a simple voice vote — where lawmakers voiced their support — following three hours of intense debate in parliament.
Anwar’s confidence vote win was “no surprise,” director of BowerGroupAsia Adib Zalkapli said, as it was “still the early days of the unity government.”
Malaysia’s fourth prime minister since 2020, who came to power after two previous administrations collapsed due to political turmoil, appears to be starting his leadership with good democratic precedent.
“Anwar is setting a good precedent in strengthening our parliamentary democracy. The government is accountable to parliament. No future prime ministers can ignore or undermine the parliament,” Zalkapli told Arab News.
Dr. James Chin, a professor of Asian studies at the University of Tasmania, described the move as important.
“The two previous governments have declared a majority, but they never tested it on the floor of parliament,” Chin told Arab News. “This is really an important precedent; it means in the future, there won’t be any backdoor government and they will have to test their numbers on the first seating of parliament.”
Malaysian political parties supporting Anwar signed a cooperation pact last week ahead of the confidence vote, promising to ensure stability. They had agreed to work together to spur the economy and maintain good governance.
Dr. Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said the confidence vote will give Anwar the time to resolve various issues facing the Southeast Asian nation, including devastating floods on the country’s east coast and the rising cost of living.
“The confidence vote lends Anwar some time to focus more on stimulating the uninspiring economy,” Oh told Arab News.