MALAYSIA’S influential former premier Mahathir Mohamad is forming a new opposition party to topple Prime Minister Najib Razak and the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in the next general election.
The formation of the yet-to-be-named coalition will see Mahathir – who led BN during his 22 year premiership – collaborate with many of his former rivals and long-time nemeses, setting aside political differences to oust Najib, who is embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.
The new party is slated to join the opposition bloc made up of People’s Justice Party (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP), and Amanah. PKR was founded by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who was imprisoned on sodomy and corruption allegations while Mahathir was still in office.
“We have agreed to set aside our differences and work as a coalition. We will also set aside our respective political struggles and concentrate on winning the next general election.
“We know that this must be done if we want to fight Barisan and win,” he was quoted as saying in The Star.
Responding to a question posed by a reporter during the press conference, the 91-year-old statesman did not indicate whether he would be contesting in the election, which is expected to be held in 2018.
“I will be the founding member, but this doesn’t mean I will be president or PM,” he said.
Late last month, Mahathir accused his former party United Malays National Organization (UMNO) of vote-buying after it won two by-elections in landslide victories.
He said that in the recent elections in the constituencies of Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar, the ruling party handed over money, rice, and electrical goods as a means of bribery to win votes.
The landslide victories were seen as further strengthening Prime Minister Najib Razak’s rule, despite colossal graft allegations, involving misplaced state funds numbering in the billions, leveled against him.