Malaysia’s Mahathir to contest election from Langkawi

LANGKAWI, Malaysia (AFP) – Malaysia’s veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad will run at an upcoming general election on the holiday island of Langkawi, the opposition announced on Sunday, as he seeks to oust the scandal-plagued government.

Mahathir has come out of retirement and joined the opposition alliance to take on his former protege, Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has become embroiled in a massive corruption controversy.

The May 9 poll will be a tough test for Najib’s coalition, which has governed Malaysia for six decades.

But 92-year-old Mahathir, the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, is still not expected to beat the party he led for years. About 5,000 supporters gathered at a rally late Sunday on Langkawi, which attracts hordes of foreign tourists each year to its palm-fringed beaches, for the announcement of his candidacy.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad gestures as he arrives for a rally ahead of the 14th general election on Malaysia’s island of Langkawi. – AFP

“Najib came and gave a lot of money to Langkawi people, but these people gave the money to us to fight Najib,” he told the cheering crowd.

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, a senior figure in opposition coalition Pact of Hope, then formally announced Mahathir would run in Langkawi.

It should be a safe seat for Mahathir – he helped develop the island into a major tourist destination during his time in office, and is well-liked there.