Anwar Ibrahim sworn in as Malaysia's new PM

Malaysia's newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (front L) attends the swearing-in ceremony at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Nov. 24, 2022. [Photo/Malaysia's Department of Information/Handout via Xinhua]

Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister, took the oath of office on Thursday to become Malaysia's new prime minister.

Anwar, who heads the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, was seen wearing traditional Malay clothes and pledged to serve the country and people well before Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at the national palace in a live-live-broadcast.

The ceremony was attended by Anwar's political allies.

Anwar, 75, had served as deputy prime minister under former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad from 1993 to 1998 in the Barisan Nasional government (BN). Following a falling out with Mahathir, Anwar later formed the People's Justice Party, popularly known by its Malay-acronym PKR and subsequently contested in several national polls.

He had held the portfolios of youth and sports, education, agriculture and finance during his political career in BN.

PKR later formed the PH coalition with several other opposition parties, with the coalition winning the national polls in 2018, ending the long rule of BN which held power from independence until 2018.

Anwar said the primary focus of his government will be economic rejuvenation, political stability and ensuring good inter-community relations between the country's various ethnic and religious groups.

"This is a national unity government, all are welcome as long as you accept anti-corruption, good governance and Malaysia for all Malaysians," he told a press conference on Thursday night following his swearing-in ceremony.

Anwar promised to focus his efforts on the fight against what he called rampant corruption as well as ensuring good governance, an independent judiciary and the people's welfare.

Calling China an important neighbor, the new prime minister said his government will give priority to enhancing relations with China in the fields of trade, investment and culture.

For the benefit of the Malaysian people's economic interest, the role of China is pivotal, he said.

He noted that he has instructed his party to hold a vote of confidence to test his majority when parliament reconvenes on Dec. 19, after his political opponents challenged his majority.

Striking a conciliatory note, Anwar also kept the door open for other political coalitions to join his unity government should they be willing to accept the principles of his coalition.

Malaysia had been in a political stalemate following the indecisive results of a snap national polls last Saturday, with no political coalition or party securing enough seats in the lower house of parliament to form a government on its own.