10 May 2018Hot off the Press
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The Malaysian opposition alliance won a majority in Parliament, ending the 61-year reign of the National Front Government.
Led by former authoritarian ruler Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the opposition has so far won 121 seats out of 222, enough to claim victory. At 92 years old, Dr Mahathir becomes the oldest elected leader in the world.
The votes from Wednesday’s poll are still being counted, but the National Front has so far won just 97 seats, with four seats left to be decided.
Dr Mahathir came out of retirement to join the opposition in response to a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal involving associates of incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak, who looted US $4.5 billion from state investment fund 1MDB.
The victory comes as a surprise after most analysts predicted a win for the National Front.
Dr Mahathir, who formerly led the country from 1981 to 2003, said that the opposition is “not seeking revenge [against Najib], we are seeking to restore the rule of law.”
Mr Najib did not speak publicly, but Khairy Jamaluddin, a member of his cabinet, said that the outgoing government will “accept the will of the people.”
Although criticised for his heavy-handed approach to political opponents and his control of the courts, Dr Mahathir is credited with modernising Malaysia and for the economic boom during the 1990s.