World’s oldest leader Mahathir to set up new political party in Malaysia

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, speaks at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on August 7, 2020 to announce the formation of a new political party. — AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s former prime minister and political leader Mahathir Mohamad, 95, said here on Friday that he was setting up a new political party as he seeks to take on the government, months after he quit as premier and his administration collapsed.

Mahathir, the world’s oldest leader until his resignation in February, first entered parliament as an MP in 1964 and had two stints as prime minister, totalling a quarter of a century.

But far from quietly retiring, the spry nonagenarian has continued to challenge the legitimacy of the leader who replaced him, and on Friday announced the new party.

Mahathir said the group, still unnamed, would be independent, champion the rights of the country’s Muslim majority and battle corruption.

“We will fight the parties involved in bribery and the stealing of money,” he told reporters at a press conference.

Mahathir said he will be chairman and the party would not be part of the current government or the opposition alliance of which he used to be a member.

Several other MPs also appeared with Mahathir at the announcement.

The ex-premier used to be a member of a party called Bersatu, which he set up to contest the 2018 election, but it split when Mahathir´s shaky coalition government collapsed.

The veteran politician was first premier from 1981 to 2003 but then launched a comeback ahead of the polls two years ago, to take on the corruption-mired regime of Najib Razak.

He led an opposition alliance to a shock victory and returned as prime minister.

But the government collapsed this year amid intense infighting over whether Anwar Ibrahim should become the next premier, and Mahathir resigned.

He sought to come back as prime minister but lost out to Muhyiddin Yassin, who now leads a coalition that includes Najib’s scandal-plagued party.

Analysts said Mahathir’s party would need the support of other parties to stand a chance of success.

“Standing alone, he would be lucky to win back his own seat,” Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow, from the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, told AFP.

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Categories: Asia, Malaysia

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