Malaysia’s Mahathir, 95, to set up new political party

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad, 95, said Friday he was setting up a new political party as he seeks to take on the government, months after he quit as premier and his administration collapsed.

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Mahathir, the world’s oldest leader until his resignation in February, first entered parliament as an MP in 1964 and had two stints as prime minister, totalling a quarter of a century.

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But far from quietly retiring, the spry nonagenarian has continued to challenge the legitimacy of the leader who replaced him, and on Friday announced the new party.

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Mahathir said the group, still unnamed, would be independent, champion the rights of the country’s Muslim majority and battle corruption.

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“We will fight the parties involved in bribery and the stealing of money,” he told reporters at a press conference.

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Mahathir said he will be chairman and the party would not be part of the current government or the opposition alliance of which he used to be a member.

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Several other MPs also appeared with Mahathir at the announcement.

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The ex-premier used to be a member of a party called Bersatu, which he set up to contest the 2018 election, but it split when Mahathir’s shaky coalition government collapsed.

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The veteran politician was first premier from 1981 to 2003 but then launched a comeback ahead of the polls two years ago, to take on the corruption-mired regime of Najib Razak.

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He led an opposition alliance to a shock victory and returned as prime minister.

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But the government collapsed this year amid intense infighting over whether Anwar Ibrahim should become the next premier, and Mahathir resigned.

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He sought to come back as prime minister but lost out to Muhyiddin Yassin, who now leads a coalition that includes Najib’s scandal-plagued party.

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Analysts said Mahathir’s party would need the support of other parties to stand a chance of success.

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“Standing alone, he would be lucky to win back his own seat,” Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow, from the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, told AFP.

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The Morning and Evening Brief

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