Krithika Varagur is an American writer and journalist based in Indonesia. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among others. (May 2018)

Follow Krithika Varagur on Twitter: @krithikavaragur.

NYR DAILY

Malaysia and the Improbable Win of an Unlikely Alliance

A video clip of the then jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim playing in the background at an anticorruption rally with Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah, and Anwar’s one-time nemesis but now political ally, Malaysia’s former prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, October 14, 2017

Mahathir Mohamad’s campaign promise was to obtain a pardon from prison for Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy whom he, Mahathir, had once seen jailed, if his electoral alliance with Anwar’s wife won in this month’s general election. This unlikely-seeming team of former rivals buried their differences in the single-minded hope of ousting the spectacularly corrupt administration of Malaysia’s most recent prime minister, Najib Razak. Their success was stunning, but no one knew what would happen once Najib’s re-election bid was rejected. After all, Malaysia had never before seen a democratic transfer of power.