Mahathir wants non-partisan government if picked as PM

Updated: 27 February, 2020 10:38 IST | Agencies | Kuala Lumpur

He made no mention of Anwar in his televised speech, but reiterated that the lower house of Parliament should be the one to pick the prime minister

Mahathir Mohamad
Mahathir Mohamad

Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday said he will form a new non-partisan government if elected to return as Malaysia's prime minister, as the king completed two days of consultations with lawmakers to resolve a political vacuum caused by the abrupt collapse of Mahathir's ruling coalition.

Breaking his silence two days after his shocking resignation, Mahathir confirmed that his Bersatu party ditched the alliance Monday in a bid to form a new government with the United Malays National Organisation or UMNO, the party of disgraced ex-leader Najib Razak, who is on trial for corruption, and a fundamentalist Islamic party.

The move had thwarted a pre-election agreement by Mahathir to hand over power to his named successor, Anwar Ibrahim. Mahathir said he had quit to show he wasn't power crazy and because he cannot work with the corrupt-tainted UMNO, which he had ousted in 2018 elections. He made no mention of Anwar in his televised speech, but reiterated that the lower house of Parliament should be the one to pick the prime minister.

"If I really still have support, I will return. If not, I will accept whoever's chosen," said Mahathir, the world's oldest leader at 94. Anwar's camp, as well as UMNO and the Islamic party, have rejected Mahathir's proposed non-partisan government. "I am not aiming to be popular," Mahathir said. "I just want to do what is best for the country... I believe, rightly or wrongly, politics and political parties must be set aside for now. If allowed, I will form an administration that does not side with any party. Only national interest will be prioritised."

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First Published: 27 February, 2020 09:46 IST

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