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Malaysia’s Anwar Becomes Prime Minister, Ending Decades of Waiting Reported by Reuters

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© Reuters. Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim attends a press conference outside the National Palace, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Husnur Hussain

By A. Ananthalakshmi, Mei Mei Chu, and Rozanna Latiff

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in on Thursday, capping a three-decade political journey from a protege of veteran leader Mahathir Mohamad to a protest leader, jailed sodomite and opposition leader.

Anwar, 75, vowed to fight corruption and focus on the economy while upholding Islam as the official religion of the multi-ethnic country and defending the special rights of ethnic Malays.

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“Thank God we have seen a change waiting for the people of Malaysia,” Anwar told reporters in a late-evening address hours after he was sworn in by the king who appointed him after an inconclusive election.

“We will never compromise on good governance, the anti-corruption drive, the independence of the judiciary and the welfare of ordinary Malaysians,” he said before leading chants of “reformism,” a rallying cry for reform during the years of opposition.

His appointment ends five days after the unprecedented post-election crisis, but it could lead to more instability with his rival, former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, and challenge him to prove his majority in parliament.

The two men’s alliance failed to win a majority in Saturday’s election, but Malaysia’s constitutional monarch, King Sultan Abdullah, appointed Anwar after speaking to several lawmakers.

Challenge time

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Anwar is taking charge at a difficult time, with the economy slowing and the country divided after a court election.

The campaign raised Anwar’s progressive and multi-ethnic alliance against Muhyiddin’s alliance, which belongs to the ethnic Malays and Muslims.

Markets jumped at the end of the political impasse. The ringgit posted its best day in two weeks and stocks rose 3%.

Anwar has been repeatedly denied the premiership despite his closeness over the years: he was deputy prime minister in the 1990s and prime minister-in-waiting in 2018.

In between, he spent nearly a decade in prison for sodomy and corruption on what he says are politically motivated charges intended to end his career.

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Uncertainty over the election threatened to prolong political instability in the Southeast Asian country, which has had three prime ministers in as many years, and threaten to delay policy decisions needed to boost an economic recovery.

Anwar’s supporters expressed the hope that his government would avoid a return to historical tensions between ethnic Malays, the Muslim majority, and Chinese and Indian ethnic minorities.

“All we want is moderation for Malaysia and Anwar represents that,” said a communications manager in Kuala Lumpur who asked not to be identified by her surname Tang.

“We cannot have a country divided along the lines of race and religion because that would set us back another ten years.”

Anwar’s coalition, known as Pakatan Harapan, won the most seats in Saturday’s vote with 82, while Muhyiddin’s Perikatan National Bloc won 73. They needed 112 – a simple majority – to form a government.

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The long-ruling Barisan bloc won just 30 seats – the worst electoral performance for an alliance that has dominated politics since independence in 1957.

On Thursday, Barisan said she would not support a government led by Muhyiddin, but made no mention of Anwar.

tensions

Muhyiddin’s bloc includes the Malaysian Islamic Party, whose electoral gains have alarmed the Chinese and Indian ethnic communities, most of whose members belong to other faiths.

Authorities warned after the weekend’s vote of rising racial tension on social media, and short-form video platform TikTok said it was on high alert for content that violated its guidelines.

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Social media users have reported several TikTok posts since the election that cited riots in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on May 13, 1969, in which some 200 people were killed, days after opposition parties backed by ethnic Chinese voters invaded the election.

The decision regarding the prime minister came to King Sultan Abdullah, after both Anwar and Muhyiddin missed the Tuesday afternoon deadline to form a ruling coalition.

The king plays a largely ceremonial role, but he can appoint a prime minister who he believes will have a majority in parliament.

Malaysia has a unique constitutional monarchy in which monarchs are chosen in turns from the royal families of nine states to rule for five years.

The most pressing issue facing Anwar will be next year’s budget, which was proposed before elections were called but has yet to be passed.

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Anwar will also have to negotiate agreements with MPs from other blocs to ensure he can retain majority support in parliament.

“Anwar is set at a critical juncture in Malaysian history, where politics is most divisive, as it recovers from a depressed economy and a bitter COVID memory,” said James Chai, visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

“Always seen as the man who can unite all warring factions, it is fitting that Anwar has emerged at a divisive time.”

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MicroStrategy is at its lowest level since 2020 after the sales were revealed

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(Bloomberg) — Shares of MicroStrategy touched their lowest level since August 2020 after the enterprise software company, which in recent years has been known as the largest buyer of bitcoin, revealed its first sale of the token.

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The stock fell 1.1 percent to $136.63 on Thursday, down 75 percent this year. Bitcoin rose less than 1% to around $16,590 and is believed to have fallen 64% since the start of the year.

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In a filing on Wednesday, MicroStrategy said it acquired approximately 2,395 Bitcoin between the beginning of November and December 21 through its subsidiary MacroStrategy, and paid out approximately $42.8 million in cash. It then sold 704 of the tokens on Dec. 22 for a total of about $11.8 million, citing tax purposes, before buying another 810 of them two days later.

Matt Malley, chief market strategist for Miller Tabak + Co. Step down as CEO. This news means they don’t seem to want to do that anytime soon.”

Overall, MicroStrategy held about 132,500 bitcoins worth over $4 billion USD as of December 27th. The company paid an average purchase price of $30,397 per bitcoin.

“Given MicroStrategy’s $2.4 billion in leverage, we believe the company may have a lot of leverage over Bitcoin, and may face some liquidity risk,” Jefferies analyst Brent Thiel wrote in a note on Wednesday. Thill has an “underperform” rating on the stock and a price target of $110.

Over the years of the pandemic, MicroStrategy has become well known for its Bitcoin takeovers, largely led by Saylor. Earlier this year, Saylor stepped down from that role and now serves as CEO at the company and continues to lead its bitcoin strategy.

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MicroStrategy was trading around $120 before Saylor first announced the company’s Bitcoin purchases in 2020. The stock reached an all-time high of $1,315 in February 2021.

(Updates to include the stock’s closing price in the second paragraph.)

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Bankman-Fried May File Petition in New York Federal Court Next Week Before Judge Louis Kaplan By Cointelegraph

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Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is set to appear in court on the afternoon of January 3 to enter a lawsuit over two counts of wire fraud and six counts of conspiracy against him related to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, according to Reuters. mentioned on December 28, citing court records. Bankman-Fried will appear before District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan.

Judge Kaplan was appointed to hear the case on December 27 after the original judge in the case, Ronnie Abrams, Resigned herself because of connections between FTX and the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, where her husband is a partner. The company provided advisory services to FTX in 2021.