Dr Mahathir resigns as Malaysian PM , Latest World News - The New Paper

Dr Mahathir resigns as Malaysian PM

This article is more than 12 months old

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad stepped down as Malaysian prime minister yesterday in a shock move that could set into motion a chain of events to change the country's political landscape.

After accepting his resignation, the Malaysian King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, made the 94-year-old leader interim prime minister until a new prime minister and Cabinet are appointed.

Dr Mahathir, who also resigned as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chairman, is now a leader without a party or a parliamentary majority after a day of dramatic developments.

PPBM and its 26 MPs have left the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, followed by 11 MPs from Mr Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) who are forming an independent bloc.

PH is left with 102 MPs, 10 short of the 112 needed to form a majority in the 222-seat Parliament.

It remains to be seen how these moves will affect the balance of power, but there had been speculation over the weekend that Dr Mahahir was behind a plan to break up PH so he could form a new coalition that may include the opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

It was only in May 2018 when PH, comprising PPBM, PKR, and the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party, among others, ousted the ruling Barisan Nasional after six decades of power.

Dr Mahathir's resignation also effectively makes redundant his promise to hand over power to Mr Anwar, a former foe turned ally, before the next general election.

Dr Mahathir's PH allies were still openly supporting him yesterday, but as the dust settles over the coming days, it may show that alliances can change quickly in Malaysian politics.