Mahathir Mohamad (standing L), wearing traditional Malay dress, took the oath of office on May 10.
Mahathir Mohamad (standing L), wearing traditional Malay dress, took the oath of office on May 10.

Malaysia’s Mahathir Sworn in as Premier

In a huge political upset, former leader Mahathir Mohamad’s opposition alliance broke the grip on power of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which had governed Malaysia uninterrupted since its birth as an independent country

Malaysia’s Mahathir Sworn in as Premier

Ninety-two-year-old Mahathir Mohamad was Thursday sworn in as the world's oldest elected leader after a stunning election win that swept Malaysia's establishment from power after more than six decades.
In a huge political upset, former leader Mahathir's opposition alliance broke the grip on power of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which had governed Malaysia uninterrupted since its birth as an independent country in 1957, AFP reported.
It capped a dramatic comeback for Mahathir, who previously ruled the country at the head of BN for 22 years and came out of retirement to take on his ex-protege, Prime Minister Najib Razak, after the leader became embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.
In a ceremony at the national palace steeped in centuries-old Muslim Malay tradition, Mahathir was officially sworn in as prime minister by King Sultan Muhammad V.
Mahathir, wearing traditional Malay dress, took the oath of office in an elaborately decorated room, with political allies and senior government officials in attendance.
As he was inaugurated, hundreds of revelers outside the palace cheered and sang the national anthem, with some breaking down in tears. Fireworks lit up the night sky across Kuala Lumpur.
"We feel so united tonight," 24-year-old student Abdul Aziz Hamzah, who was among the crowd, told AFP. "Mahathir is so insightful and experienced because he's been here before."

>Reconciliation Initiative
One of the most remarkable aspects of Mahathir's comeback has been his reconciliation with jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim, his former nemesis. Their relationship has loomed large over the Malaysian political landscape for decades.
Malaysia's king has agreed to pardon Anwar at once, Mahathir said on Friday. "The [king] has indicated he is willing to pardon Datuk Sri Anwar immediately," Mahathir told a press conference, using a Malay honorific.
"We will begin the... proper process of obtaining a pardon for Datuk Sri Anwar," said Mahathir. "This means a full pardon. He should be released immediately when he is pardoned."
Mahathir has promised to eventually hand the premiership over to Anwar, his former foe turned ally in an opposition alliance formed to take on scandal-plagued former prime minister Najib Razak.
Mahathir's reconciliation with Anwar has been one of the most remarkable aspects of an electrifying election race. Anwar was a senior figure in government and Mahathir's heir-apparent until the pair dramatically fell out.
Mahathir sacked Anwar in 1998 over political differences, and he was subsequently jailed on charges of sodomy and abuse of power, in a case widely condemned as politically motivated. Anwar was jailed again during Najib's rule. He was already slated to come out of prison in June.

>Focused on Economy
The opposition faced an uphill battle at the election due to what critics said were no-holds-barred attempts by Najib to hang on to power.
His government was accused of gerrymandering while activists said he hurled cash and gifts at voters and there was a litany of problems with the electoral roll, including dead people appearing on the list.
Najib called the vote mid-week, in what critics said was an effort to keep turnout down—elections are normally held at a weekend in Malaysia. But in the end voters flocked to the polls in droves in a determined bid to push him out.
Najib had initially refused to offer a clear concession. But after Mahathir was sworn in, he congratulated him on Twitter and said he was "willing to assist a smooth transfer of power".
At a press conference after being sworn in, Mahathir said the government's main focus would be on the economy. A major concern for Malaysians in recent times has been the soaring cost of living.
He said his administration would abolish laws that are "oppressive", and that widely-condemned legislation outlawing "fake news" would be examined.

>Heads Must Fall
The new government would look into clawing back money allegedly looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, he said. Billions of dollars were allegedly stolen from the investment vehicle that was set up and overseen by Najib, in a massive scandal that battered Malaysia's international image. Both Najib and 1MDB deny any wrongdoing.
Mahathir has previously vowed that Najib will face justice over the controversy. He also said that "certain heads must fall" in government departments.
"We found that some people were aiding and abetting a prime minister which the world condemns as a kleptocrat," he said.

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