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Anwar comes full circle and completes what he started in 1982

By Mariam Mokhtar - posted Thursday, 29 June 2023

Some Malaysians are disappointed with Prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, whom they think is treading a dangerous path by empowering the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

On 11 June, Anwar announced that he would give Jakim a bigger role in government policymaking. He claimed that Jakim’s input would benefit Malaysia and uplift the dignity of the government.

Anwar may come to regret this move because once Jakim has increased control, more money and tasted real power, they may not be so easy to rein in.


The PM may wish to please every section of society but he will end up pleasing no-one. He must learn to say “No!”

On the other hand, Anwar is behaving true to form. Isn’t he merely completing his aim of islamising the nation, a task he started in 1982, but was temporarily stalled?

Older Malaysians will recall that in 1982, the then prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, plucked a young, charismatic student leader from  the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (ABIM), to join Umno. It was one of Mahathir’s master strokes. The young man was Anwar and his appointment served two purposes.

First. As a member of Mahathir’s Umno administration, Anwar would not be able to organise any protest against the government for failing to help poor, struggling farmers.  

Second. As the co-founder of ABIM, Anwar fitted nicely into Mahathir’s plans. When Mahathir became PM in 1981, his vision was to quickly put Malaysia onto the manufacturing and industrial map.

However, PAS was a thorn in his side and he  needed someone to rebrand Umno and make it more Islamic than PAS and attractive to the Malays. The world was experiencing an Islamic resurgence because of the Islamic/Iranian  revolution of 1979. PAS capitalised on this and Malays were increasingly attracted to PAS.


When Anwar fell out with his former boss and was forced out of political circulation, jailed twice by rivals in Umno and stopped from his ambition of becoming PM, the islamisation process of Malaysia slowed down.

Now that Anwar is back as PM, he can complete his life’s work.

Under his administration, he said that Jakim had received higher allocations and a bigger role in policymaking in line with his “Malaysia Madani” concept.

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This article was first published on Rebuilding Malaysia.

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About the Author

Mariam Mokhtar is the founder of the site Rebuilding Malaysia.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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