Ibrahim, Anwar

Posted Oct 20, 2005      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version Bookmark and Share

Anwar Ibrahim, [ .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) ], 58, former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, started his public career as a student and youth activist in the late 1960s. In his early 20s he led a student protest against the Vietnam War and the government’s neglect of poverty and rural development in Malaysia. After finishing his university education, he started the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), the first mass-based NGO that raised social and political awareness in Malaysia that emphasized social justice and human rights. Through ABIM and later within his capacity as president of the National Youth Council, Anwar forged solidarity and alliances with the youth of other religious persuasions and ethnic groups to demand that the government address the issue of national unity from the perspective of social justice, empowerment and democracy. He was detained, without a trial in 1971, for two years for supporting peasant protests. After joining the government in 1982 Anwar started numerous initiatives to make the government more tolerant and responsive to dissent and criticism from the opposition and social activists. He reformed the education system from its previous overemphasis on utilitarianism and manpower production to instill greater emphasis on character development and intellectual pursuit. When he was Minister of Finance more emphasis was given to help the poor and to encourage the private sector to integrate their pursuit for profit with social responsibility through financing education, intellectual and cultural activities. It was not infrequent that Anwar departed from the conventional attitude of his colleagues in the government who preferred to indulge in self-congratulations. He insisted that the government be self-critical, and often voiced the need to reform the government and to widen the scope of freedom. He was aware of the decline in key Malaysian institutions including the judiciary and expressed his dissatisfaction in public. Before the onset of the Asian financial crisis in late 1997, Anwar, who was then the deputy prime minister, published his book: The Asian Renaissance, which articulated a vision of Malaysia that significantly departed from the vision of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. In light of the financial crisis, the book was considered as a deconstruction of Mahathir’s Vision 2020. By differing with Mahathir in public on how to deal with the economic crisis, Anwar took an unprecedented move in Malaysian political culture. His criticism of corruption and abuse of power within the government became more explicit and his demand for reform became more vocal. He was sacked in September in 1998 and served six years of imprisonment on trumped-up charges. Until his release in September 2004, Anwar led a new democratic movement in Malaysia from his prison cell and penned several essays articulating his passion for freedom and human dignity.

From: http://www.islam-democracy.org/6th_Annual_Conference__papers.asp#anisab