Paralleling dramatic shifts in Malaysian politics since the 1980s have been the twists and turns in the life of Anwar Ibrahim, who became prime minister after decades of striving in November 2022. From student firebrand to wily political strategist, Anwar has been both insider and outsider, balancing principles and ambition, from the streets to prison to parliament, and back around again. Throughout, he has done surely more than anyone else to coax Malaysia along new sociopolitical paths, helping to elevate both conservative Islamism and progressive political liberalism, in novel combinations. His critics are fierce; his fans at least as much so—but his legacy is undeniable.

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