Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad eyes top job again, weeks after quitting – dpa international


Mahathir Mohamad greets the crowd at a May 5 2018 campaign event in Kedah State in Malaysia’s northwest (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Ten weeks after quitting as Malaysia’s prime minister, 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad is lining up another stint as leader.

Parliament Speaker Mohamad Ariff M Yusof said on Thursday that he had received a letter from Shafie Abdal, a member of parliament and chief minister of Sabah in the Malaysian part of Borneo, proposing a vote of confidence in Mahathir during a one-day parliament session on May 18.

Mahathir was the world’s oldest government leader before his shock resignation on February 24 prompted a week-long power struggle.

That fight culminated with Mahathir’s home affairs minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, being nominated prime minister by the country’s king – as he was deemed the leader “most likely” to command a parliamentary majority.

On March 1, when Muhyiddin was sworn in as his replacement, Mahathir, alleging betrayal, claimed the backing of 114 legislators – enough for a majority in a parliament vote.

A week earlier, the day Mahathir quit, Malaysia had confirmed just 22 coronavirus cases.

But starting February 26, 15,000 people took part in an Islamic ceremony in Kuala Lumpur’s outskirts.

Two weeks later again, Malaysia’s Covid-19 caseload had jumped to 553, prompting the Muhyiddin administration to impose a lockdown. Many of the new cases were linked to the ceremony.

The lockdown was strictly enforced, with more than 21,000 arrests, but was relaxed on Monday.

Mahathir supporters contend that the May 18 parliament session is too short, accusing the government of ducking questions about its handling of the pandemic.

Veteran opposition ;awmaker Lim Kit Siang on Thursday said ministers were using the pandemic “to abuse their powers, free from any parliamentary oversight.”

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