Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has submitted his resignation to Malaysia’s king on Monday, a surprising move that could cause a political crisis.
The surprise announcement of his resignation was made by the office of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad comes amidst speculation that the 94-year-old politician is planning to form a new ruling coalition, effectively excluding his promised successor Anwar Ibrahim.
Mahathir’s party, the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (BERSATU) also announced that it would be cutting ties with the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan in support of the prime minister.
In a statement, BERSATU President Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin said: “All members of the House of Representatives of the party are also out of Pakatan Harapan. All of them have signed the Oath to continue to support and trust Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.”
In May 2018, Mahathir shocked political observers by winning the election, ending six decades of dominance by the then-ruling UMNO-dominated Barisan Nasional coalition led by Najib Razak.
This was his second stint has prime minister after holding the position from 1981 to 2003. Under his previous term, Malaysia turned into a major trading and economic force in Southeast Asia.
With the win, he became world’s oldest leader at 92 years old at that time. Prior to the election, he said that standing in the election was a “job I have to do.”
Mahathir argued: “I cannot accept this country being destroyed by selfish people who only think about themselves … who steal money,” referring to the 1MDB corruption scandal that surrounded Najib’s premiership.
1MDB is a sovereign wealth fund set up in 2009 to boost Malaysia’s economy through strategic investments but billions of dollars went missing. The US has formed a settlement deal with fugitive financier Jho Low to recover $700 million in assets tied to the multi-billion dollar corruption scandal.