Malaysia’s Mahathir chooses holiday island Langkawi as his election battleground
The electorate is a safe bet for Mahathir, 92, but he still faces an uphill struggle to fulfil his ultimate goal of ousting the government of PM Najib Razak
Malaysia’s veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad will run at an upcoming general election on the holiday island of Langkawi, the opposition announced Sunday, as he seeks to oust the scandal-plagued government.
Mahathir has come out of retirement and joined the opposition alliance to take on his former protégé, Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has become embroiled in a massive corruption controversy.
The May 9 poll will be a tough test for Najib’s coalition, which has governed Malaysia for six decades.
But 92-year-old Mahathir, the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, is still not expected nationwide to beat the party he led for years.
About 5,000 supporters gathered at a rally late Sunday on Langkawi, which attracts hordes of foreign tourists each year to its palm-fringed beaches, for the announcement of his candidacy.
“Najib came and gave a lot of money to Langkawi people, but these people gave the money to us to fight Najib,” he told the cheering crowd.
“He thought cash is king – but the people of Langkawi know that it is stolen money.”
Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, a senior figure in opposition coalition Pact of Hope, then formally announced Mahathir would run in Langkawi.
It should be a safe seat for Mahathir – he helped develop the island into a major tourist destination during his time in office, and is well-liked there.
Billions of dollars were allegedly looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, which Najib set up and oversaw, in an audacious scheme of fraud and money laundering. Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.