Mahathir Mohamad resigns as Malaysian prime minister

Mahathir Mohamad resigns as Malaysian prime minister

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, December 10, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad submitted his resignation as Malaysia's prime minister on Monday (Feb 24).

A letter of resignation was delivered to the king at 1pm on Monday, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office read. No other details were included in the statement.

Shortly after, he also resigned as chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

"The letter was sent to Bersatu headquarters today," a statement from the office of Bersatu's chairman read. 

READ: Anwar says Mahathir played no part in attempts to create new ruling coalition

Dr Mahathir has been summoned to meet the king at 5pm on Monday, his aide was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.

His shock resignation as prime minister came after speculation intensified that he would lead Bersatu to exit the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) and form a new government with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and others.

READ: Mahathir's Bersatu party quits ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition; 11 MPs quit PKR 

Dr Mahathir was Malaysia’s fourth prime minister from 1981 to 2003, when he was heading UMNO. 

He quit UMNO in 2016 and formed Bersatu the same year and assumed the role as its chairman. 

He led Pakatan Harapan (PH) to a shock victory in the May 2018 polls, breaking Barisan Nasional’s 60-year rule since the country’s independence.

Malaysia's politician Anwar Ibrahim speaks during an interview with Reuters in Petaling Jaya
Malaysia's politician Anwar Ibrahim speaks during an interview with Reuters in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Mr Anwar Ibrahim, who is Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president and prime minister-in-waiting according to a PH agreement, had on Sunday conceded that he has been betrayed by coalition partners.

READ: Anwar Ibrahim says he has been betrayed by Pakatan Harapan partners amid talk of new ruling coalition

On Monday morning, Mr Anwar and Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail met Dr Mahathir at the latter's residence, together with Democratic Action Party (DAP) secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu.

Mr Anwar later told reporters that there will be no bowing down to the group who wants to betray the trust of the people.

“I am satisfied with his (Dr Mahathir’s) stance that we need to prioritise our principles,” he also said.

Describing himself as the “interim prime minister”, Dr Mahathir has repeatedly said that he would honour the agreement to hand over to Mr Anwar, but remained coy on when he would pass the baton.

READ: Anwar, Azizah to meet Malaysia king as talk over new ruling coalition intensifies

On Sunday, there was a flurry of political activity as speculation intensified that a new government would be formed.

Mr Azmin Ali’s PKR splinter group, Bersatu, UMNO and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) were having their respective private meetings, with Warisan president Shafie Apdal spotted at the GPS gathering.

Separately, UMNO and PAS had its inaugural retreat in Janda Baik, Pahang on Sunday morning. The two parties had in September last year formed a pact under the banner of Muslim unity. 

In the evening, party leaders of these six political parties had an audience with the king at Istana Negara. Conspicuously absent from this meeting were DAP and Amanah - two parties in the ruling PH coalition.

Following that, more than 130 MPs from across the political divide showed up for a dinner gathering at Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya - the venue of Mr Azmin-led PKR meeting.

Malaysian Chinese Association president Wee Ka Siong, Malaysian Indian Congress president SA Vigneswaran, UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin were among the senior politicians present. 

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Source: CNA/aw

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