Malaysia gets new prime minister but political stand-off continues – dpa international

KUALA LUMPUR — Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as Malaysia’s prime minister in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning in a ceremony boycotted by Mahathir Mohamad, the previous prime minister, who claims he has a majority of lawmakers endorsing his return as premier after he quit less than a week ago. Muhyiddin’s appointment was announced by the country’s king on Saturday afternoon. Though the monarchy is largely ceremonial, the king can name a prime minister who he thinks is “likely” to command a majority in parliament, which in practice usually reflects election results. In turn, Mahathir and the Pakatan Harapan/Alliance of Hope coalition that made up the previous government published a list of 114 parliamentarians who they said backed Mahathir, two more than the number needed for a majority. Mahathir on Sunday described the the appointment of Muhyiddin as “strange” and said the king refused to entertain his claim of majority support.

Malaysia’s Mahathir claims enough support to re-form government, challenging appointment of Muhyiddin – dpa international

KUALA LUMPUR — Interim Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said late on Saturday that he has parliamentary support sufficient to enable him to continue as premier, contradicting a statement by King Abdullah that rival Muhyiddin Yassin “was the MP who is likely to secure the majority support.” In the latest twist to a frenetic week of intrigue and alliance-shifting, Mahathir published a list of 114 parliamentarians he said support him continuing in the job, two more than the majority needed to form a government.  Muhyiddin is scheduled to be sworn in as Malaysia’s next prime minister at 10:30 am (0230 GMT) on Sunday, but Mahathir said he hopes the king “will accept my letter (with the 114 names) and explanation.”

Mahathir sidelined in struggle for Malaysian premiership as king turns to former party colleague – dpa international

Muhyiddin Yassin seen giving a speech at an anti-government rally in Kuala Lumpur in November 2016 (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — In the latest twist to what has been a week-long struggle for political control of Malaysia, the country’s largely ceremonial monarchy on Saturday nominated Muhyiddin Yassin as the next prime minister. In a statement issued by the palace, King Abdullah said that Muhyiddin, the president of interim prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Bersatu party, will be sworn in as prime minister on Sunday as he likely commands the most support of any candidate. Malaysia’s constitution stipulates that the king may nominate a prime minister if he deems any candidate “likely to command the confidence of the majority of the MPs,” which in practice usually means the leader of the winning side in parliamentary elections. The announcement came after Mahathir, 94, who resigned on Monday, threw his name into the fray again on Saturday morning.

Mahathir back in the race to lead Malaysia as rival Anwar steps aside – dpa international

Mahathir Mohamad during late night press conference after the Pakatan Harapan/Alliance of Hope win in May 2018 parliamentary elections (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Though he was removed as chairman of his Bersatu party on Saturday after regaining the support of other former allies, Mahathir Mohamad claims he has the backing to be appointed prime minister. “I am now confident that I have the numbers needed to garner majority support in the Dewan Rakyat [parliament],” Mahathir said, in a statement released by the Alliance of Hope/Pakatan Harapan. The 94-year-old Mahathir had led the grouping to a spectacular election win in 2018 but government imploded on Monday when he unexpectedly resigned as prime minister. Bersatu president and prime ministerial candidate Muhyiddin Yassin responded later on Saturday by saying he was replacing Mahathir as party chairman, though other party members quickly disputed the attempted takeover.

Mahathir ousted by own party as Malaysian power struggle rolls on – dpa international

Muhyiddin Yassin pictured to the right of Mahathir Mohamad on the night of May 9 2018, when their Pakatan Harapan/Alliance of Hope won national elections (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s 94-year-old interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was removed as chairman of his own Bersatu party on Saturday, the latest twist in a week-long struggle for control of one of Asia’s wealthier economies. Mahathir announced on Saturday morning that he had regained the backing of the Pakatan Harapan/Alliance of Hope coalition, after previously breaking with the coalition on Monday when unexpectedly resigning as prime minister. In response, Bersatu party president Muhyiddin Yassin said he was replacing Mahathir as chairman. Other party members disputed the attempted takeover.

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.