Malaysia’s Mahathir wins shock victory, toppling long-ruling regime
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad, 92, won a historic election victory on Thursday, in a political earthquake that toppled the country’s scandal-plagued premier and ousted a regime that had ruled for over six decades.In a stunning political upset that took pundits by surprise, Mahathir’s opposition alliance ended the long hold on power of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has been in power in Malaysia since its birth as an independent country in 1957.The thumping victory capped a dramatic political comeback for Mahathir, who previously ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years and came out of retirement to take on Prime Minister Najib Razak after the leader became embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.When he takes power, Mahathir will be the oldest prime minister in the world.Despite the shock result there were no reports of trouble on the streets, where pockets of celebration erupted overnight.A flag-waving crowd of supporters gathered on a field outside the headquarters of Mahathir’s party near Kuala Lumpur.Suva Selvan, a 48-year-old doctor, said he felt the country had just won its independence.“I feel that with this change we probably can see something better in the future…our hope for the future is a better government, fair, free and united,” he told AFP.Defeat could just be the beginning of Najib’s troubles. 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.But at a press conference after his win, Mahathir vowed: “We are not seeking revenge. We want to restore the rule of law.” He said he would be sworn in on Thursday.Mahathir’s return to the political frontlines saw him throw in his lot with an opposition alliance filled with parties that he crushed while in power, and which includes jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim–his former nemesis.Anwar is due to be released from prison in June. Mahathir has vowed to get him a royal pardon, and later hand over the premiership to him.As well as seizing control of the national government, several state legislatures across the country fell into opposition hands for the first time, including the highly symbolic bastion of Johor, the birthplace of Najib’s party that was the lynchpin of the ruling coalition.