Anwar Ibrahim: Tenacious in Dissent, Hopeful in Power

KHOO BOO TEIK is Professor Emeritus, the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, and Research Fellow Emeritus, the Institute of Developing Economies, Chiba, Japan.

SIRD (First published, 2023)
460 pages including Bibliography and Index


In stock

ISBN: 9786297575124 Product ID: 39543 Subject: Sub-subjects: , ,

Anwar Ibrahim: Tenacious in Dissent, Hopeful in Power is a compelling exploration of Anwar Ibrahim’s remarkable journey through the tumultuous landscape of Malaysian politics. Spanning over half a century, Anwar’s life and career have been marked by unwavering determination and an unshakable belief in the power of change. This book offers a nuanced and insightful perspective into the life of a man who has left an indelible mark on Malaysia’s political landscape. Anwar Ibrahim’s story is one of evolution and resilience. From his early days as a Malay nationalist student to his role as a driving force behind Islamic activism, he has consistently sought to transform society and challenge the status quo. Anwar’s journey through the corridors of power has seen him rise from a promising political figure to an ‘anointed successor’ to the premiership, only to face persecution and imprisonment as a reformist.

Throughout his career, Anwar Ibrahim has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to changing circumstances. His charismatic personality and complex ideas on issues such as Islam, a humane economy, coalition politics, and societal transformation have set him apart as a visionary leader. In a political landscape dominated by powerful ethno-religious opponents, Anwar has consistently outmaneuvered his adversaries. Anwar’s struggle for justice and reform has been a constant theme in his political career. He has faced off against five prime ministers, each of whom wielded considerable power and controlled key institutions such as the police, judiciary, and mass media. Despite these daunting odds, Anwar’s tenacity and unwavering commitment to his principles have allowed him to mobilize popular dissent and build a formidable civil society movement.

One of the defining moments in Anwar’s journey was his imprisonment in 1998, during which he became a symbol of resistance against a repressive regime. His release and resurgence in 2023 as the Prime Minister of Malaysia marked a triumphant return to the forefront of Malaysian politics. Anwar’s ideas and vision for Malaysia must be understood within the context of the country’s evolving political landscape. The dominance of UMNO (United Malays National Organisation), once considered unassailable, has been challenged by a revitalized opposition led by Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition. The political system now features multiple coalitions, with UMNO occupying a subordinate position. Anwar’s coalition includes a diverse array of parties, including the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Amanah Nasional, and Gabungan Parti Sarawak. The dynamics of Malaysian politics have shifted dramatically, with trust among political actors remaining fragile due to past coalition realignments.

Societal changes within the Malay community have also played a role in reshaping Malaysian politics. Anwar’s leadership seeks to address issues of social justice, corruption, and reform across various institutions, including the judiciary, media, and police force. However, the path to reform is fraught with challenges, and Anwar’s limited political power poses a significant obstacle. In the face of these complexities, Anwar Ibrahim remains a tenacious and hopeful figure. His journey—from political prisoner to Prime Minister—reflects not only his personal resilience but also the transformative power of grassroots movements and popular dissent. While his career has not been without flaws and controversies, it is undeniable that Anwar has played a pivotal role in reshaping the political landscape of Malaysia. As Malaysia continues to navigate the intricacies of its evolving political terrain, this book offers a comprehensive and thought-provoking exploration of a leader who has left an indelible mark on the nation’s history. It is a testament to the enduring power of conviction and the belief that change is possible, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.


1. Fighting Hegemony: A Template of Dissent
Prison connections
Will the real Anwar stand up?
A moment of hegemony
Lurching in crises
A template of dissent
Terminating Mahathirist hegemony
A legacy of Reformasi

2. Charisma, Chameleon and Identity
Fascination with charisma
Of being a chameleon
Identity in flux
Aiming for renaissance

3. Islam: Faith in Search of Problems
Decolonization and the duty of social criticism
Progress and the direction of transformation
A step from succession
Before the split
Confronting democracy, freedom and governance

4. A Humane Economy Between State and Market
A halcyon decade
Ambivalences in euphoria
Years of drought
A new dawn of a moral economy
A humane economy
Awakenings and alternatives

5. A Populist Reimagination of Society
A populist persona
Leadership and coalition
Rage against the machine
The spectacularisation of failure
In the presence of a populist uprising
Struggles to reimagine society
Rethinking nation

6. Unrealized Transitions of Power: Origins and Consequences
The mobility of fathers and sons
Divergent paths
Succession strife
The first failed transition
A second flopped transition
Betrayal by the elites
Dysfunctional changes
UMNO’Ss defeat
Mahathir’s final failure
The innocence of the plebeians

7. An Ascension in Confusion
Parlous Malay politics
Continuing problems
Down time for the Malay-Muslim front
Parti Keadilan Rakyat: living with uncertainty
Power play over premiership

8. Parameters of a New Governance
Malaysia Madani: ideological basis of a new order
Highlights of a populist budget
Reflections on the transformation of politics

9. Epilogue: The Spectre of Anwar Ibrahim
No more template of dissent
Malay divisions and six state elections
The spectre of Anwar Ibrahim

About the Author

Weight0.68 kg
Dimensions22 × 15 × 2.3 cm




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