Malaysia’s 97-year-old Mahathir to run in general election, again

Malaysia’s 97-year-old former leader Mahathir Mohamad announced on Tuesday that he will defend his seat in general elections expected next month, although he would not say whether he would be prime minister a third time if his political alliance wins.

“We have not decided who will be prime minister because the prime minister’s candidate is only relevant if we win,” Mahathir told a news conference.

Though unlikely, he would be the oldest-ever candidate for the position, which has a five-year term.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Monday dissolved parliament ahead of SNAP polls, which extends to pressure from his United Malays National Organization Party, which is hoping for a big win over its own gain amid feuds with allies in the ruling coalition. The election commission must set a date for a vote within a week, which must be held within 60 days of the dissolution of parliament.

Despite his non-agenar status and a health zip this year, Mahathir said he will defend his parliamentary seat on the island of Langkawi. He also warned that a victory by the ruling Umno party could see imprisoned ex-prime minister Najib Razak pardoned and let go of the hook.

Mahathir was an Umno Prime Minister for 22 years until his retirement in 2003. Then, in 2016, he was inspired to return to politics by the massive looting of the 1malaysia Development Berhad State Fund during Najib’s tenure and drove a wave of public anger at lead the opposition to a historic victory in 2018 polls that have ousted Umno, who had ruled Britain since the country’s independence in 1957.

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Mahathir became the world’s oldest head of government at age 93 and oversaw the graft allegations against Najib and other UMNO leaders. But his reformist alliance collapsed in less than two years due to defects and Umno returned to power under a new coalition government.

After the collapse of his government in 2020, Mahathir formed the Pejuang Party and a new alliance with several minor parties.

Mahathir, who mirrored both the opposition and Umno allies following the opposition’s lead Umno, for putting his own interest first in rushing elections that bring major flooding during the annual monsoon season in November. He said Umno aims to win big by offering bribes and money to the people.

He said Umno’s main goal is to free Najib, who began serving his 12-year sentence in August after losing his last appeal in a corruption case linked to the 1MDB scandal. Najib is also facing several other lawsuits related to 1MDB that could extend his jail term if found guilty. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is also on trial for dozens of graft costs unrelated to the 1MDB case.

“If they win this election, their first step would be to ask (the King of Malaysia) to pardon Najib. At the moment, they have made a request but have not been pardoned,” Mahathir said. If they can win and form the government, that is their primary objective, not about the welfare of the people. “

Mahathir said his political alliance has not been approved by the government and that about 120 candidates will run under Pejuang’s banner in Malay-dominated parliamentary seats.

Analysts said Mahathir’s appeal may no longer appeal to the ethnic Malaysian voters who supported him in 2018. Umno, who had just 36 out of 222 lawmakers in the newly dissolved parliament, believes many Malaysia has bounced back after its landslide victory in recent bye-bye events.

The Alliance of Hope, which led Mahathir to victory in 2018, remains the top contender with 90 lawmakers. The prime minister candidate is Anwar Ibrahim, who was originally to succeed Mahathir before their government collapsed.

While Mahathir competes head-on with Umno and others for Malaysian votes, which account for two-thirds of Malaysia’s 33 million people, Anwar’s alliance remains on a multi-racial platform. Ethnic Chinese and Native Americans make up large minorities in the country.

Anwar said on Monday that the elections will be a time for the people to vote from traitors that led to the collapse of his alliance government in 2020.

“Did you think we could reverse 60 years of entrenched corruption and kleptocracy with just one election? Did you think these compound robbers and thieves would just give up? “Anwar said in a statement.” We’re not giving up either. We never give up. “

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