International News

Malaysia’s Mahathir sworn in as world’s oldest leader after shock poll win

Mahathir Mohamad has been sworn in once more as the new prime minister of Malaysia, resuming the post after a 15-year interval.
At the inauguration ceremony on Thursday, the 92-year-old politician became the world’s oldest elected leader.
His supporters cheered joyfully outside as the inauguration ceremony took place inside the Istana Negara palace in Kuala Lumpur.
Mahathir had stood at the helm of the Malaysian government for more than two decades before his retirement in 2003. In order to make his remarkable return he needed to defeat the scandal-hit Najib Razak.
Mahathir formed an opposition alliance to achieve the task and as the leader of the Pakatan Harapan (PH), he ousted the powerful Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
BN had been in power ever since the nation gained independence from the British Empire seven decades ago.
None of the parties within the coalition government managed to win a majority, so it fell to Malaysia’s king Sultan Muhammad V to form the next federal government.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Mahathir’s comeback has been his reconciliation with jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim, his former nemesis. Their relationship has loomed large over the Malaysian political landscape for decades.
Anwar was Mahathir’s heir-apparent until the premier sacked him in 1998 over political differences, and he was subsequently jailed on charges of sodomy and abuse of power.
Anwar was jailed again during Najib’s rule but is due out in June — and Mahathir has pledged to help him get a royal pardon, allowing him to run for political office again and potentially become prime minister.
Najib’s ouster from the government could be just the start of the problems of Mahathir’s former protégé.
Mahathir has vowed to bring Najib to justice over allegations that billions of dollars were looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, which the scandal-hit leader set up and oversaw.
In Mahathir, the opposition found the perfect person to take on Najib. He is a staunch Malay nationalist who could appeal to the country’s biggest ethnic group, and whose years in power were remembered as a prosperous period in the country’s history.