Is it game over for Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad? | UpFront (Special Interview)

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It has been described as Malaysia’s political Game of Thrones: a fortnight of mind-bending political turmoil, triggered by the resignation last week of 94-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad after his coalition collapsed.

After being reinstated as interim prime minister by the king, Mahathir seemed poised to form a new government that may have sidelined his designated successor Anwar Ibrahim. But before long, Mahathir and Anwar were once again united in an attempt to form a new government, only to find themselves both on the outside looking in as someone else – Muhyiddin Yassin – was sworn in as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister.

Muhyiddin is backed by the scandal-ridden United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) – the very party Mahathir ousted in the 2018 election amid anger over what is known as the 1MDB scandal.

Syed Saddiq, who was a cabinet minister in Mahathir’s government, said what we are seeing in Malaysia is the formation of an “illegitimate back-door government”.

“The fact that without Dr Mahathir’s knowledge that his own colleagues decided to work together with the well-known global kleptocrats to form a back-door government and to take down the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government, I think it’s a truly sad day for Malaysian democracy,” Saddiq said.

Mahathir has been accused by some of creating the political turmoil in Malaysia himself, by failing to keep his pledge to hand over power to Anwar. With no clear timeline ever set for the succession, many believed Mahathir would not fulfil his promise.

But Saddiq said there was an agreement to hand over power to him.

“There was an agreement to give room for Dr Mahathir to govern and then when the right time comes, to hand over power to Anwar, and the agreement was after APEC,” Saddiq said.

“If Mahathir really was power-crazy he could have simply just remained as the prime minister … Instead he stepped down, his moral conscience is clean, and he still fought to ensure that the democratically elected government will stay in power because of the people,” he added.

In this week’s Special Interview, MP Syed Saddiq defends Malaysia’s political colossus Mahathir Mohamad.

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