Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad (pictured), 92, has said he expects to be sworn in today (Thursday) after his shock election victory ended his former Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition’s 62-year-rule.
“Yes, yes, I am still alive … There is an urgency here, we need to form the government now, today,” said Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, who stepped down in 2003. “There is a lot of work to be done. We need to attend to this mess as soon as possible.”
Mahathir said his coalition would not seek revenge but would “restore the rule of law”.
He has pledged to step aside after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is released from prison in June, and is eligible to assume office again.
The Election Commission said the opposition had so far won 113 seats out of 222 with BN on just 79 so far.
Defeated prime minister Najib Razak told the media he would accept the “choice of the people”.
“I accept and my friends accept … it has been the choice of the people and the Barisan Nasional party is committed to respecting the principles of democracy,” the corruption-plagued premier said.
“As one party gained a simple majority, they will make a decision on who will be appointed as prime minister, according to the constitution.”
Mahathir said ahead of voting that the “rule of law” would prevail over allegations around the state-run 1MDB investment fund.
Najib had faced increased public anger over a goods-and-services tax that boosted prices and the hundreds of millions of dollars allegedly syphoned from 1MDB. While Najib denied wrongdoing, Mahathir called his former protege a “thief” on the campaign trail.
“If the law says that Najib has done something wrong, then he will have to face the consequences,” Mahathir said.
No single party within the opposition coalition won a majority, so technically it now rests with Malaysia’s king to decide who forms a government.
Mahathir, who he is set to become the world’s oldest elected leader in the world, first needs the king to sign his letter of appointment as prime minister, which is expected to take place, during a royal ceremony in the Kuala Lumpur. The king has granted Mahathir an audience at 5pm.
Malaysia’s stock market, which traded near a record high ahead of the election, is set for volatility after Mahathir’s victory, Morgan Stanley analyst Aarti Shah predicted. When the result became clear, iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF based on the nation’s stocks dropped as much as 2.6 per cent to its lowest point since February.
The new old prime minister Mahathir Mohamad videos his fans. Picture credit: YouTube