After resigning from Prime Ministerial post, Mahathir Mohamad returned as interim Prime Minister of Malaysia on February 25. Though Mahathir had submitted his resignation to the King on Monday, he is expected to remain at the helm by entering a wider coalition and replacing the current ruling pact.
According to media reports, Mahathir could retain the power with the support of a majority of lawmakers that includes opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS). The political realignment could see a new government without the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) which was part of the current coalition government. PKR has expelled Minister of Economic Affairs Mohamed Azmin Ali and Minister of Housing & Local Government Zuraida Kamaruddin for acting against the party. PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, in a Facebook Live broadcast on February 23, had expressed shock on the political developments calling it a betrayal of the promises made during government formation.
The political realignment could see a new government without the PKR which was part of the current coalition government. The resignation of Mohamad was widely expected after a series of meeting were held on February 23 to plan the formation of a new federal government. Mahathir disbanded the cabinet and the future of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, formed by Mahathir and Ibrahim is almost over.
Mahathir’s stint during the first term in office from 1981 to 2003 witnessed a rise in Malay nationalist politics and analysts believe that the realignment could see another wave of supremacy politics in Malaysia. The 95-year-old Malaysian leader has been critical of India for its Kashmir policy and the citizenship act.
Mahathir has stoked several controversies in recent times for his positioning in the current geopolitical scenario. Recently, he revealed that Malaysia and three other countries, including Iran, are planning to trade among themselves in gold and through a barter system. Iran, Malaysia, Turkey and Qatar are mulling over the idea due to fear of future economic sanctions, said Mohamad at the end of four-day Kuala Lumpur summit.