Malaysian king summons Mahathir, who’s trying to be PM again

  • Malaysian king summons Mahathir, who’s trying to be PM again

Malaysian king summons Mahathir, who’s trying to be PM again

Mr. Anwar said lawmakers from the three remaining parties in his alliance have nominated him as the prime minister after Mahathir rejected their offer to restore their former government. A failed bid by Mr. Mahathir's supporters to form a new government without his named successor Anwar Ibrahim plunged the country into a political limbo.

The official vehicle carrying Dr Mahathir was seen entering the palace compound at 10.57 am.

The Malaysian king, who has been asking the 222 MPs who they want as premier, could declare the victor.

Mr Anwar said the coalition had invited Dr Mahathir to a meeting on Tuesday, but after he failed to show, they chose to put him forward as their candidate.

A candidate must have the backing of at least 112 MPs - but it was not clear whether Anwar or Mahathir would achieve that, and there are likely to be days of political horse-trading ahead.

Mahathir said he quit because his party wanted to pull out of the Pakatan coalition and form a government with the parties they defeated in the last general election.

Mahathir has outfoxed opponents for decades during two stints as prime minister. Soon after, Anwar was jailed for sodomy, charges he says were trumped up.

Anwar was Mahathir's deputy and a rising political star when Mahathir was prime minister the first time but they fell out.

A unity government cutting across party lines could give Dr Mahathir greater authority than during a spell as prime minister from 1981 until his retirement in 2003. He selects ministers from whichever party he likes. His camp still controls 41% of parliamentary seats but could be the largest bloc after two key Malay opposition parties withdrew their support for Mahathir.

An electoral loss for Anwar's group may mean renewed focus on the country's decades-old positive discrimination policy for majority Malays, who enjoyed preferential access to everything from public financing to a 30% quota for equity holdings in businesses.

"I just want to do what is best for the country", Mahathir said in a televised message.

A coalition of NGOs, led by pro-electoral reform group Bersih 2.0, has raised the possibility of a mass rally.

The amount allocated is higher than Singapore's S$5.6 billion (RM17 billion) package to help firms and workers, as well as households in the republic announced on Feb 18.

The political turmoil has cast a pall over a slowing economy that reported its worst growth rate since 2009, and hampers its ability to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and trade wars.