Malaysia's Mahathir Vows to Investigate Toppled Government

Grant Boone
May 16, 2018

Mahathir was spurred out of retirement by a corruption scandal at 1MDB, a state fund that is being investigated by the USA and several other countries after associates of defeated Prime Minister Najib Razak allegedly stole and laundered $4.5 billion from it.

Mahathir, 92 was sworn in as the leader on Thursday, making him the world's oldest democratically elected leader.

A four-party alliance driven by Mahathir and Anwar won the general election last week, ousting the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition for the first time in the history of the Southeast Asian nation.

Malaysia's historic change of government paves the way for an extraordinary comeback for jailed opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim, who played a key role in helping to secure the election victory and has become a prime minister in waiting.

Dr Mahathir reiterated there are no charges against Najib, and that the latter can not be detained but that he is "apparently" not allowed to leave the country. "There will be no special powers given except as are given to ministers or deputy ministers or deputy prime ministers", Mahathir said.

The alliance between Mahathir - who has been prime minister before - and Anwar came after years of feud as the latter was first jailed after Mahathir dismissed him as deputy prime minister in 1998.

In "an initial stage, maybe lasting one or two years, I will be the prime minister", Mahathir said.

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Fire and sheriff's officials said the building appeared to be undergoing some type of renovation. Children at a day care across the street from the building were evacuated.

Anwar, in jail on sodomy charges his supporters say are trumped up, had been widely expected to be freed on Tuesday, paving the way for him to eventually become premier.

Mahathir added that Anwar, after his release, would need to seek a seat in parliament and then might be given a cabinet post, but would play the same role in the coalition as leaders of the other three parties in the alliance.

Both police officers said investigators were not primarily interested in the luxury items but were chasing documents that could be vital for investigations into Najib's administration.Kuala Lumpur's police chief and an official police spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.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. His wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who heads Anwar's party, is now the new deputy prime minister.

Mahathir, asked about the possible prosecution of his predecessor, Najib, said he thought that "in a short while" the government could have a case against him. "If there is no case against him, we don't go for detention without trial", Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying in the report.

"News broke in 2015 that about $700mn allegedly stolen from 1MDB had made its way into Najib's personal bank accounts".

Najib set up 1MDB in 2009 and previously served as chairman of its advisory board. He says the funds were political donations from a Saudi royal family member.

Dr Mahathir had personally ordered travel restrictions on Najib last Saturday (May 12) after news spread that the latter was about to fly off to Jakarta for a short break. He and the fund have denied wrongdoing.

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