In this week’s UpFront, we speak to Malaysian opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail about her attempts to unseat current Prime Minister Najib Razak. Could the upcoming election result in Wan Azizah becoming the country’s first female prime minister?
And in the Arena, with Iranians heading for the polls soon, we debate what the future holds for President Hassan Rouhani and how much of his reform agenda he was able to accomplish.
Headliner – Is Malaysia’s opposition too weak to win?
As Malaysians prepare for elections, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, leader of the opposition and wife to imprisoned former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, is hoping to lead her coalition into power.
In an unlikely partnership aimed at strengthening the opposition, Wan Azizah joined forces with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, the man who previously backed her husband’s criminal prosecution.
But with the ruling Barisan Nasional party polling high, and the opposition divided, can Wan Azizah defeat Prime Minister Najib Razak – who is embroiled in a corruption scandal – to become the country’s first female prime minister?
“We cannot give up. This is our country. This is our future. So we have to continue and do something,” says Wan Azizah.
In this week’s Headliner, Malaysian opposition leader and President of the People’s Justice Party Wan Azizah Wan Ismail discusses her coalition’s platform and her surprising plans if she succeeds in the elections.
Editor’s note: UpFront received no response to requests for an interview from Malaysian government representatives.
Arena – Has Rouhani succeeded in reforming Iran?
Editor’s note: More from this interview debating human rights in Iran will be posted here this Saturday, May 13 at 1300GMT
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came into power in a landslide victory in 2013 on promises of reform and social and economic progress.
Although Rouhani’s administration succeeded in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal, many Iranians have yet to see economic prosperity from the lifting of sanctions, with youth unemployment at nearly 30 percent.
So, with the economy as the primary concern for Iranians casting their votes in the May 19 presidential election, will Rouhani manage to win re-election against his two ultra-conservative challengers, in what has turned out to be a tighter race than expected?
“Elections in Iran are very important. The president has a great deal of power,” says Iranian academic Mohammad Marandi. “According to polls, the overwhelming majority of Iranians are concerned about unemployment, and after that, it’s wages.”
“We have to understand that President Rouhani, again, as a prime minister in an absolute monarchy, is not in charge of Iranian economy,” says Maziar Bahari, editor of IranWire. “Many economic institutions in Iran, many industrial institutions in Iran, are under the supervision, direct supervision of [Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”
In this week’s Arena, Iranian-Canadian journalist and human rights activist Maziar Bahari, and Iranian academic Mohammad Marandi debate how much of a reformer President Hassan Rouhani has actually been and whether the country has progressed under his leadership.
Source: Al Jazeera News