Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24 weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is seen in Putrajaya, Malaysia, in a Dec. 10, 2019, file photo.

LIM HUEY TENG/Reuters

Malaysia’s king summoned Mahathir Mohamad to the palace Thursday, fuelling talks he may have majority support to return as the next prime minister after his abrupt resignation and the collapse of his ruling coalition this week.

Mahathir didn’t speak to reporters as he was driven into the palace grounds. The meeting came after the king interviewed lawmakers to determine who they support as prime minister and if they want fresh elections.

A comeback as prime minister for a third time will be a remarkable feat for Mahathir, the world’s oldest leader at 94, after nail-biting twists, turns and machinations in the political drama that unravelled over the weekend. A failed bid by Mahathir’s supporters to form a new government without his named successor Anwar Ibrahim plunged the country into a political limbo.

Story continues below advertisement

A total of 37 lawmakers, led by Mahathir’s Bersatu party, left the ruling alliance, depriving it of majority support and sparking a crisis less than two years after it ousted a corrupt-tainted coalition that had ruled for 61 years. The king dissolved the Cabinet but reappointed Mahathir as interim leader.

The result was a renewed battle between Mahathir and Anwar, whose political feud has stretched more than two decades.

Mahathir said Wednesday he had quit to show he wasn’t power crazy and because he doesn’t want to work with the former corrupt regime that he had ousted in 2018 polls. Despite a preelection pact to handover power to Anwar, he said Parliament should pick the next leader and that he would form a non-partisan government if he is chosen again to helm the government.

“I just want to do what is best for the country. I believe, rightly or wrongly, politics and political parties must be set aside for now. If allowed, I will form an administration that does not side with any party. Only national interest will be prioritized,” Mahathir said in a televised message.

His unity government plan was rejected by Anwar’s camp, which said it would only create a “Mahathir government” that is not accountable to the people and unsustainable.

Anwar said lawmakers from the three remaining parties in his alliance have nominated him as the prime minister after Mahathir rejected their offer to restore their former government. He has said they will wait for the king’s decision. His camp still controls 41% of parliamentary seats but could be the largest bloc after two key Malay opposition parties withdrew their support for Mahathir.

Anwar was Mahathir’s deputy during Mahathir’s first stint in office in the 1990s, but he was sacked following a power struggle and later jailed on sodomy and corruption charges that he said were trumped up. Anwar led a reform movement that helped built a fledgling opposition but was jailed a second time for sodomy in 2014 in a move he said was aimed at killing his political career.

Story continues below advertisement

Mahathir, who retired in 2003 after 22 years in power, made a comeback in 2016 spurred by anger over a massive graft scandal involving a state investment fund. Mahathir and Anwar reconciled and forged an alliance that won a historic vote in 2018 that ushered in the first change of government since independence from Britain in 1957. But their relationship remained uneasy as Mahathir refused to set a time frame to hand over power to Anwar.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies