Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir resigns

Mahathir was Prime Minister 1981 to 2003. He returned to politics in 2018 out of spite, to dethrone his former protege. Now he’s retiring at 94 years old, and threw the Malaysian government into disarray.

Christian Patterson
2020-03-02
Underground Mall

Malaysia’s 94 year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed resigned, shaking up Malaysian politics.

For all of the country’s modern history, Malaysia has been governed by the National Front – a right-wing political coalition. Mahathir was prime minister from 1981 to 2003 as a member of the National Front.

However, there was kind of a centrist turn of the National Front in recent years. The former prime minister, Najib Razak was more fiscally liberal than Mahathir, more China-friendly, and more multi-ethnic.

When Mahathir became prime minister, Najib was arrested for corruption charges. Najib started a gpublic policy called 1Malaysia, and was found taking money out of the welath fund associated with 1Malaysia.

But Mahathir never liked the 1Malaysia policy, and was one of the major catalysts causing him to run against Najib. Mahathir re-entered politics representing Alliance of Hope which is a political coalition of several parties. Many of those parties are more left-wing than the National Front, but the coaliton was led by Mahathirm who is right-wing.

When Mahathir won the nomination in 2018, he made an agreement with his former political rival Anwar Ibrahim, that Anwar would take over after Mahathir. That will no longer happen, because when Mahathir resigned, enough people left the coalition that they no longer retain a majority.

This is unrelated, but, Anwar has faced two different, both very dubious trials where he was accused of sodomy. The first trial was instigated by Mahathir himself.

The king of Malaysia appointed a new prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, who is a member of the National Front. This ends Alliance of Hope’s very short-lived victory, although it wasn’t much of a victory, considering their majority was commanded by a long-term former Prime Minister of National Front anyway.

If you want to learn more about politics in Malaysia, especially as they pertain to Mahathir and Najib, I wrote about that here, last August.

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