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Anwar Ibrahim is within touching distance of Malaysia's premiership, the culmination of a decadeslong journey that took him from rising political star to a prison cell. (Photo courtesy of the Office of Anwar Ibrahim)
The Big Story

Anwar Ibrahim finally has Malaysia's leadership within reach

The prime minister in waiting retains a zeal for reform

JAMES CRABTREE, contributing writer | Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR -- For a soft-spoken politician, Anwar Ibrahim angers quickly when talking about corruption.

"We have tried, for the last half-century, a pro-Bumiputra policy that benefited cronies and elites," he says, referring to the entrenched, race-based affirmative action system that favors his country's majority ethnic Malays. "Look at the figures. Poverty has increased! Inequality has increased!" he goes on, his voice rising as he counts the points off on his fingers. "It becomes like a clientelist system. And that needs to be rejected!"

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