SHAH ALAM: Malaysia’s veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad was named as the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate on Sunday as a bruising election battle looms against scandal-plagued premier Najib Razak and his long-ruling coalition. The decision means the 92-year-old, a hugely divisive figure criticised for ruling with an iron fist during his long reign, could return as premier 15 years after stepping down. But he also agreed to make way for jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim — his former nemesis turned political ally — to become prime minister on his release from prison if Anwar is granted a royal pardon.
Mahathir’s ascent to opposition prime ministerial candidate is the latest sign of how dramatically Malaysia’s political landscape has been shaken up by a massive financial scandal that has rocked Najib’s government. Mahathir came out of retirement to take on Najib as anger mounted at allegations billions of dollars were looted from a state investment fund, 1MDB, founded by the current premier. Both Najib, whose United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has led the country in a coalition since independence in 1957, and the fund deny any wrongdoing. — AFP