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11 May 2018, 01:29 | Bernice Figueroa
Malaysia opposition wins election, Mahathir to return as PM
Delight, disbelief and a degree of apprehension about a former strongman taking the reins of power again - Malaysians were stunned Thursday after the scandal-ridden coalition was finally unseated by a challenge from Mahathir Mohamad, 92.
Although Mahathir has taken back the post he held previously for more than two decades as the head of the dominant United Malays National Organization-Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition, this time he ran under a new party banner - the Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope), and his win ushers in the first real change in government since Malaysia won independence from British rule in 1957.
Dr Mahathir's supporters waved flags and cheered outside the Istana Negara palace in Kuala Lumpur as he was officially sworn in by Sultan Muhammad V. Fireworks lit up in the night skyas people celebrated.
Mr. Mahathir, dressed in traditional Malay dress, took the oath of office in a elaborately decorated room, with political allies and senior government officials in attendance.
The following is an explanation of how seasoned campaigner and long-time leader Mahathir Mohamad, 92, led an opposition alliance to victory over Prime Minister Najib Razak's BN.
Malaysia's outgoing Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives for a news conference following the general election in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 10, 2018.
Malaysia has never experienced a political transition before. "All these can be easily done at the bureaucratic level", he told Bernama, adding that the return of Dr Mahathir was a historic moment not only for Malaysia, but also the world. Their relationship has loomed large over the Malaysian political landscape for decades.
Anwar was Mahathir's heir-apparent until the premier sacked him in 1998 over political differences, and he was subsequently jailed on charges of sodomy and abuse of power.
Asked about the maximum time he would spend as Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir said PH will try to get a full royal pardon for the coalition's designated Prime Minister in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim so that the latter could be involved in politics again.
Najib conceded the election in a news conference on Thursday but has not been seen in public since.
His comments were slammed by one analyst as "unstatesmanlike".
"So us entrepreneurs, need to work together and work hard to help improve the country's economy", he said. "We would like to see a very active stock market, so they (business community) can now push up the stock prices", he said. Mahathir was also accused of being an authoritarian leader, and political opponents were thrown in jail during his time in office.
He said people's livelihoods had been affected under Najib's rule due to the rising cost of living, a major issue in the election campaign.
Najib's defeat could be just the start of his problems - Mahathir has vowed to bring him to justice over allegations that billions of dollars were looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, which the scandal-hit leader set up and oversaw.
Earlier yesterday, Najib appeared to raise doubts that Mahathir would immediately take office because no single party had won a simple majority of seats in the 222-member parliament, and it would be up to the monarch to decide.
Ganesan Karuppannan, a 54-year-old lawyer, said the country had descended into a "dictatorial situation" in recent years.
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