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Malaysia: Election victor seeks 'urgent' new government

Malaysia: Election victor seeks 'urgent' new government

Pakatan Harapan (PH) leader Mahathir Mohamad was on Thursday (May 10) invited by Malaysia's king Sultan Muhammad V to form the next federal government, a palace statement said.

Former Prime Minister Najib had been in power since 2009.

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.

PH, Dr Mahathir said on Thursday morning, had won a clear majority and is entitled to form the government, and hopes this will be done "by 5pm today". The Guardian newspaper reports that outgoing prime minister Najib Razak was offering bribes to opposition MPs to persuade them to switch sides.

At a press conference after being sworn in, Mahathir said the government's main focus would be on the economy. "There is a lot of work to be done. We need to establish a government without delay", he added.

Mahathir Mohamad has been sworn in as Malaysia's 7th prime minister in a ceremony before the Southeast Asian country's king after leading opposition parties to a historic election victory.

The country, now in "uncharted territory", would likely see greater reliance on oil-related revenues and a narrowing of the government's revenue base if it goes ahead with its GST plans, Anushka Shah, senior analyst at Moody's Investor Service, said in a Thursday note. Before the poll he had promised to step aside once Anwar was free and let him become prime minister.

A public petition calling on the Conference of Rulers to endorse the PH government was also circulated on social media, garnering almost 65,000 signatures as of noon on Thursday.

Mahathir said the new government will not conduct a witch hunt, but Najib will have to face the consequences if he had broken the law.

"It is not just a comeback", she said.

The elections were made more contentious when Naijib and his party were accused of trying to skew election results in their favor by redrawing electoral lines based on race and ethnic grouping, while railroading an anti-Fake News bill through parliament. "I urge all Malaysians to be calm and to trust the king's wisdom to make the best choice". Mahathir is being investigated under that law for claiming a plane he was to travel on was sabotaged during the campaign.

Anwar was jailed again during Najib's rule but is due out in June - and Mahathir has pledged to help him get a royal pardon, allowing him to run for political office again and potentially become prime minister.

The constitution, he said, only specifies that the prime minister must represent those with a majority in the legislature.

The opposition won 121 seats, one more than required for a simple majority, and BN has 79 in the 222-member parliament, according to official results.

"I think he will bring great wisdom, great experience to the role in Malaysia and anyone who's interested in the politics of Malaysia and perhaps the recent politics of Malaysia without dwelling on it too much can't but be impress by the victory", he said in a one-minute and 18-second video. "It has been the choice of the people, and the Barisan Nasional party is committed to respecting the principles of democracy".

The election outcome raises "the possibility that Malaysia could finally start to tackle some of the institutional problems that are holding back the country's long-run prospects", Capital Economics said, assessing that the 1MDB scandal was a "key factor" for the opposition's win.


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