PORT DICKSON, Malaysia (AP) — Charismatic Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim won a by-election for a parliamentary seat with a landslide victory on Saturday in a grand political comeback to help him prepare for his eventual takeover from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Anwar was designated as Mahathir’s successor after the two men set aside a bitter feud and joined hands to capture a stunning victory in May’s general election.
Anwar couldn’t participate in the election due to a sodomy conviction — a charge that he alleged was politically motivated — but he was freed and received a royal pardon days after the polls.
The Election Commission said Anwar received 31,016 votes for the parliamentary seat in the southern coastal town of Port Dickson, defeating six other candidates. His closest rival secured only 7,456 votes.
Anwar said his huge margin of victory was unexpected and called it a “convincing” win.
“Attention should focus on what (Anwar) would do in parliament and his relationship with those in government,” said Bridget Welsh, a political science lecturer and Southeast Asia expert at John Cabot University in Rome.