Published: Sun, May 13, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

Hardliner, 92, back as Malaysia's PM in shock election win

Hardliner, 92, back as Malaysia's PM in shock election win

Najib said earlier on Saturday that he was going overseas for a week to rest, but just minutes later the Department of Immigration announced that he and his wife had been barred from leaving the country.

But instead of Dr Mahathir representing the first letter in the prophecy, it was believed that former Umno-deputy-president-turned-PPBM-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would lead off the acronym. He also said Malaysia would remain friendly with all countries, not favoring any one in particular.

An opposition alliance headed by new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 92, inflicted a shock defeat on BN in Wednesday's election, ejecting the coalition from power after more than six decades of unbroken rule.

Mahathir Mohamad said he is responsible for slapping a travel ban on former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife.

Earlier, dozens of people - mostly journalists - gathered at an airport near Kuala Lumpur from where Najib and his wife were reported to be leaving for the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and tried to look into cars entering the complex.

Malaysia's new prime minister said Saturday he "prevented" his predecessor from leaving the country.

The fund was started by Najib when he took power in 2009, but it accumulated billions in debts and is being investigated in the USA and several other countries.

After his flight schedule was made public on Friday night, Najib tweeted that he was taking a "short break" to spend time with his family and apologised for his "shortcomings and mistakes". Mahathir has said that if Najib were found to do something wrong, "he will have to face the consequences".

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He suggested Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali, who cleared Najib over 1MDB and shut down domestic probes, was as good as out of a job.

"I have taken the decision to step down as president of UMNO and chairman of Barisan Nasional (BN) immediately", he told a press conference, surrounded by senior party members.

He said restrictions had been placed on people suspected of wrongdoing, adding: "At the moment, we don't have an attorney-general".

Anwar was Mahathir's heir apparent until the premier sacked him in 1998 over political differences, and he was subsequently jailed on charges of sodomy and abuse of power that were widely seen as trumped-up.

Mahathir has said he will step aside and hand over the prime minister's post to Anwar once he is pardoned.

But in a remarkable turnaround, the pair reconciled and joined forces as allegations mounted over 1MDB and Najib became increasingly authoritarian.

This means Mr Anwar could be out of jail sooner than June 9, his scheduled release date.

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