Former PM Mahathir Mohamad storms back to power in Malaysia

13 May, 2018, 00:28 | Author: Courtney Perry
  • Malaysian leader Najib Razak faced the media but did not give a clear concession of defeat

"So based on this principle I have made a decision to give up both positions".

Najib, 64, said his deputy, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, would take over as UMNO president.

The finance minister has been an ethnic Muslim Malay since 1974 and the appointment of Lim, a chartered accountant who led the wealthy northern state of Penang since 2008, reflects reforms pledged by Mahathir's alliance to heal racial divisions in the country blamed on decades-old preferential policies.

Mahathir, previously prime minister for 22 years, was once Najib's mentor but turned against him over a graft scandal and led the opposition challenge to him in this week's election, defeating the coalition that had ruled Malaysia for six decades.

Mahathir said the new government will not conduct a witch hunt, but Najib will have to face the consequences if he has broken the law.

He was spurred out of retirement by allegations that Najib oversaw the wide-scale looting of sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. Mr. Najib and 1MDB have denied wrongdoing, and Malaysian investigations carried out during Mr. Najib's premiership have cleared him.

"We have the right to know who is inside the vehicle, as a citizen I will fight for that", Raja Singham, a 49-year-old businessman, who had tried to block the van from entering the airport, said.

Najib's campaign tried to paint Mahathir as a traitor to the Malay cause, but the nonagenarian's charisma and engaging oratory drew crowds running to thousands at campaign stops ahead of the election.

Within four years he had become deputy leader and in 1981, at the age of 55, he became prime minister.

"I respect the directive and can continue together with my family while in the nation".


The scandal became a major factor in the election and in the ouster of Najib Razak, Mahathir's predecessor and former protege.

"I was already informed that the immigration department of Malaysia doesn't allow me and my family to foreign countries".

Anwar was jailed again during Najib's rule.

How has Mr Najib reacted to the ban?

Najib was beset by a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

"I'm fully confident that in the long term this transition will be good for financial markets in Malaysia", CIMB Group Chairman Nazir Razak, Najib's brother, told Bloomberg TV interview on Thursday.

Second day in office, Mahathir announced appointments of senior ministers in the new Cabinet.

Anwar is in prison on corruption and sodomy charges that were widely denounced as politically motivated.

United States investigators said Mr Najib's associates stole and looted 4.5 billion USA dollars from the fund, of which some 700 million U.S. dollars landed in Mr Najib's bank account and some 30 million USA dollars was used to buy jewellery for his wife.

The lawmaker said a key reason for declaring the public holidays was so that Mahathir could announce key ministerial positions and name the new adviser before trading started on Monday in an effort to reassure global investors that his government was off to a solid start.

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