Political crisis grips Malaysia as Mahathir says ‘betrayed’ by new PM
Crisis continues to overshadow Malaysia's politics, with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad rebuking the designation of Muhyiddin Yassin as his successor, saying he feels “betrayed” by the newly appointed premier.
"Apparently we are going to see a man who does not have majority support will become the prime minister. This is a very strange thing because the result of the 14th election should be that the winners form the government, here we are going to see from the same election the losers will form the government,” Mahathir said at a news conference in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, referring to the 2018 poll.
"I feel betrayed, mostly by Muhyiddin. He was working on this for a long time and now he has succeeded," he added.
Mahathir’s reformist "Pact of Hope" alliance, which scored a landslide victory in the May 2018 election, collapsed after months of bitter infighting and the move led to the resignation of the 94-year-old politician last weekend. He was later reappointed as interim prime minister and promised to seek a vote in the parliament to challenge Muhyiddin's support mainly from the corruption-tarnished former ruling party.
After a week of uncertainty, the Malaysian king — a constitutional monarch — appointed Muhyiddun, the former interior minister, as the prime minister. He was officially sworn in on Sunday.
The Malaysian palace announced that King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah believed Muhyiddin had the support of a majority of lawmakers, but Mahathir insisted that he had enough backing to return to the role with the support of at least 114 out of the 222 lawmakers.
The announcement was met with shock and sparked widespread anger among Malaysians who felt their democratic rights as voters had been undermined.
The king’s ejection of the reformist alliance, with the hashtag "NotMyPM" trending on Twitter, prompted more than 100,000 people to sign a petition that said the move was a "betrayal" of voters' choice at the 2018 poll.
Muhyiddin's coalition is comprised of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the party of disgraced ex-leader Najib Razak, as well as a hardline group that advocates tough religious laws.
The 72-year-old was deputy prime minister under Najib until he was sacked in 2015 amid a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at state fund 1MDB.