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Uncertainty as Malaysian PM Mahathir resigns

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: PM Mahathir, right, had the support of would-be successor Anwar Ibrahim, left, to stay on until after November – Malaysiakini

Just days after Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad was given a mandate by the ruling coalition to stay on until after November’s APEC Summit, he has submitted a letter of resignation to the nation’s king. His office made the announcement today, amid talk of forming a new coalition.

The fate of Malaysia’s current ruling coalition has been in doubt since surprise weekend talks between it and opposition groups on forming a new government, to exclude Mahathir’s anointed successor, Anwar Ibrahim.

The struggle between old rivals, 94 year old Mahathir, and Anwar, aged 72, has dominated Malaysian politics for decades and tension has remained, despite their victorious alliance in 2018’s elections based on a promise that Mahathir would one day hand power to Anwar. Anwar was even jailed for years on questionable sodomy charges, blocking his ascent to the premiership.

“The letter has been sent to His Royal Highness the King at 1pm,” Mahathir’s office said in a statement.

It’s not immediately clear whether Mahathir can form another government with the support of other parties, but his party, Bersatu, also quit the ruling coalition, according to a Facebook post from its president, Malaysian home minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Yesterday, Anwar accused Mahathir’s party and “traitors” in his own party of plotting to form a new government with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the former ruling party ousted in 2018 amid accusations of graft.

Sources say Bersatu and a faction of Anwar’s party met officials from UMNO and Islamist party PAS, in efforts to form a new coalition and possibly back Mahathir to serve out a full five-year term as prime minister.

The uncertainty, coupled with growing fears about the spreading coronavirus COVID-19, has spooked investors, driving Kuala Lumpur’s stock market benchmark to a 10 year low, while the ringgit slid 0.7% to a nearly six month low, its sharpest drop in more than three years.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World |

 

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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