Anwar Ibrahim

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was deputy prime minister of Malaysia from 1993 to 1998. He also served as minister of finance from 1991 to 1998.

Born in Penang, Malaysia, in 1947, Anwar received his early education in his hometown before gaining admission to the prestigious Malay College at Kuala Kangsar, Perak.

He was at the University of Malaya in the aftermath of the 1969 race riots, at a time when the country faced deep political crisis. There he led protests against the Vietnam War and demonstrations on domestic social issues such as corruption, poverty, and the plight of the marginalized.

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 uplifting and social justice.

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. 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.

In 1982, he was invited to join the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the ruling party, and the government, by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Anwar was elected in 1984 leader of UMNO Youth, and in 1986 he 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 1990s.

Active on the national front, Anwar has also been highly engaged in the international arena. He has been a strong advocate for dialogue among civilizations and has worked tirelessly towards the ideals of the mutual coexistence of civilizations and the interplay of different social, cultural, and spiritual ideas. Between 1995 and 1998, he organized a series of conferences on the Asian Renaissance, aimed at crossing geo-political barriers between societies and nations and creating political structures to promote dialogue across cultures.

Anwar was also chairman of the Development Committee of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in 1998. During his tenure he strongly endorsed the initiatives of debt cancellation and reprieve for poor countries, particularly those in Africa.

For his many contributions, in 1996, Anwar was awarded the Presidential Medal by Georgetown University,USA, and an honorary doctorate by the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. In 1993, shortly after becoming finance minister, Euromoney named him as one of the top four finance ministers; in 1996, Asiamoney named him Finance Minister of the Year.

Since 2004 Anwar has held lecturing positions at St. Anthony's College at Oxford and at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He was also a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Anwar is a consultant to the World Bank in the areas of governance and accountability and was appointed as honorary president of the London-based group Accountability.

He is chairman of the board for the Foundation for the Future and also serves as an adviser to the People's Justice Party of Malaysia. He is an internationally renowned speaker on the subjects of democracy, freedom, governance, Islam and democracy, and the need for accountability. He currently resides in Malaysia with his wife and six children.

By: Hany Ramadan

Staff Writer —

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