Pledging billions to address coronavirus impact, Mahathir says Malaysian parliament to decide next prime minister – dpa international

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KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s interim prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday that the country’s parliament will reconvene next week to settle who will run the next government, with elections possible if lawmakers cannot decide. “If the Dewan Rakyat (parliament) fails to find anyone with a majority we will have to go to a snap election,” he added. 112 seats are needed for a majority. Mahathir teamed with long-time rival Anwar Ibrahim to win Malaysia’s last elections in 2018, agreeing to hand the leadership to Anwar by May 2020. But Mahathir later stalled on the promise, leading to renewed rivalry between the two. Three parties have backed Anwar’s bid to be prime minister, after previously working under Mahathir as part of the government that fell on Monday. With two major opposition parties calling for elections, Mahathir could struggle to regain the premiership. “At this moment I don’t have the power to form a cabinet,” Mahathir said. “Whoever wins I will accept.”

In Malaysia, Mahathir’s unity government pitch opposed by former allies – dpa international

BANGKOK — Two days after his shock resignation, Mahathir Mohamad broke his silence on Wednesday to state that he was open to returning as Malaysia’s prime minister atop a unity government. After days of intrigue, with parties holding multiple meetings amid speculation about shifting alliances, Mahathir, who is interim prime minister, suggested in a televised speech that “party politics” be “put aside for the time being” and a national unity government be formed. However Mahathir, 94, is being challenged by Anwar Ibrahim, an ally-turned-foe, whose supporters contend that the unity government proposals would give Mahathir free rein. “Effectively, it is a Tun [an honorific referring to Mahathir] government and not a PH [Pakatan Harapan, the four party alliance that made up the previous administration] government,” stated the Democratic Action Party (DAP), which held several ministries under Mahathir.

Old foes Mahathir and Anwar spar over vacant Malaysian premiership – dpa international

BANGKOK — Malaysia’s former leader Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday that he was open to returning as prime minister but faces a stiff challenge from ally-turned-foe Anwar Ibrahim. “If it’s true that I’m still supported I’ll be back. Otherwise I will accept whoever is selected,” Mahathir, 94, said. Mahathir, who is interim prime minister until a new government is formed, made the comments during his first speech since his shock resignation on Monday. During a press conference shortly after Mahathir’s speech, 72-year-old Anwar said Mahathir was invited to a meeting of three of the four former governing coalition parties on Tuesday to discuss restoring the government that fell the previous day. Neither Mahathir nor his Bersatu party, which quit the alliance on Monday, attended the meeting. In response, the alliance stated on Wednesday that its candidate for prime minister is Anwar.

Malaysia’s Mahathir says he is open to returning as prime minister – dpa international

BANGKOK — In his first speech since his shock resignation as prime minister, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad said he was open to returning to the job if he had the backing of lawmakers. Mahathir, who now serves as interim prime minister, suggested “party politics” be “put aside for the time being” and a national unity government be formed to replace the four-party coalition that collapsed after the 94-year-old resigned on Monday. Mahathir said he would not form a government with the United National Malays Organisation (UMNO), his former party that he helped defeat in May 2018 parliamentary elections after joining the opposition, which was then was led by Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister during Mahathir’s first 1981-2003 run as prime minister.

Malaysian opposition calls for elections after prime minister quits – dpa international

BANGKOK — Malaysia’s opposition parties want parliamentary elections to be held and have rejected the idea of a unity government under Mahathir Mohamad, the 94-year-old who unexpectedly resigned as prime minister on Monday. “We should go back to the polls and let the people decide,” Annuar Musa, the secretary-general of the biggest opposition party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), said during a Tuesday press conference. The mostly ethnic Malay opposition parties object to the Democratic Action Party (DAP) – a mostly Chinese-Malaysian organization that filled several key ministries in the government that fell on Monday – being part of any replacement unity administration. UMNO governed Malaysia as part of the Barisan Nasional/National Front coalition from independence in 1957 until a shock May 2018 election loss to an alliance led by Mahathir in partnership with his former foe Anwar Ibrahim, 72. Najib Razak, the last UMNO prime minister, is on trial over the alleged looting of a state fund while in office.

Malaysia power vacuum stalls measures against trade war, coronavirus – dpa international

With concerns growing about the possible spread of Novel Coronavirus, facemasks are an increasingly-common sight in cities such as Kuala Lumpur (Simon Roughneen)

BANGKOK — As Malaysia’s political parties jostled on Tuesday to replace the coalition government that collapsed the previous day, the fate of a potentially vital economic stimulus package was hanging in the balance. Concerns about the twin impacts of the China-US trade war and the deadly coronavirus outbreak prompted Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan/Alliance of Hope government to draft financial proposals that were due to be announced on Thursday. However the proposals have been stalled by the shock resignation of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday and the withdrawal of his Bersatu party from the governing alliance. Lim Guan Eng, who was finance minister in the government, stated on Tuesday afternoon that Mahathir intended to publish details of the package “at a date to be announced by him.”

Parties vie to form new government after Malaysian premier quits – dpa international

BANGKOK — Malaysia’s political parties are holding a flurry of meetings as contending factions jostle to replace the Pakatan Harapan/Alliance of Hope coalition government that collapsed on Monday when Mahathir Mohamad resigned as prime minister. Party representatives lined up to meet Mahathir, who is interim prime minister until a new administration is formed, amid competing claims about who has the 112 parliamentary seats needed for a majority. Various parties are due to meet Malaysia’s king, Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, later on Tuesday as part of the formalities of setting up a new government. The king, clad in a shirt and tie, brought burgers and fries to journalists gathered at the palace gate on Tuesday afternoon. He plans to interview each lawmaker individually on Tuesday and Wednesday in attempt to ascertain what grouping has a majority. Annuar Musa, the secretary-general of the opposition United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), told local media on Tuesday morning that an alliance with several opposition parties – as well as members of the former government, including Mahathir’s Bersatu party – will give UMNO enough MPs to try form a government.

Malaysian parties rally to reinstate premier hours after he quits – dpa international

KUALA LUMPUR — Hours after Mahathir Mohamad’s shock resignation as Malaysian prime minister on Monday, parties in his governing alliance clamoured to endorse his immediate return, as a power vacuum emerged in South-East Asia’s third-biggest economy. Not only did Mahathir resign, but his Bersatu party pulled out of the governing Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition at about the same time, moves that seemingly meant the government’s imminent collapse. But Mahathir’s former government allies seem unprepared to let the 94-year-old go. Lim Guan Eng, Malaysian finance minister and leader of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), a mostly Chinese-Malaysian part of the alliance, said during a press conference later on Monday that it supports the renomination of Mahathir, who was the world’s oldest head of government before he stepped down.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad quits government – dpa international

KUALA LUMPUR — Mahathir Mohamad on Monday resigned as Malaysia’s prime minister and his Bersatu party has quit the governing Alliance of Hope coalition. Mahathir’s move comes after a weekend of drama, with parties from both government and coalition meeting all day Sunday and Anwar Ibrahim, the designated successor to Mahathir, alleging “betrayal” by allies. Anwar and Mahathir met on Monday morning, shortly before Mahathir, at 94 the world’s oldest Prime Minister, announced he would quit. Mahathir previously said he wanted to remain as leader until after Malaysia hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in November.

Malaysia’s leader-in-waiting alleges plot to topple government – dpa international

KUALA LUMPUR – Anwar Ibrahim, the designated successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, accused members of Malaysia’s governing coalition of betrayal as a series of all-day party meetings fuelled speculation that a new government could be formed at his expense. “We are waiting for further information, but there were attempts to bring down the Pakatan government involving our former friend Bersatu (the party led by Mahathir and one of four governing coalition parties) and a small faction from PKR (the coalition party led by Anwar) who has betrayed us,” Anwar said, in a video posted on Facebook.