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Mahathir granted audience with king, says new Govt must be formed right away

KUALA LUMPUR ― Presumptive Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad was granted an audience with the King at 5pm on Thursday, and he is expected to be sworn in as the country's seventh Prime Minister at 9.30pm.

Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad told a gaggle of assembled journalists that he expects to be sworn in by 5pm on Thursday (May 10).

Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad told a gaggle of assembled journalists that he expects to be sworn in by 5pm on Thursday (May 10).

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KUALA LUMPUR ― Presumptive Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad was granted an audience with the King at 5pm on Thursday (May 10), and he is expected to be sworn in as the country's seventh prime minister at 9.30pm.

Dr Mahathir was reportedly accompanied by four other leaders from the alliance when he met the King. There had been confusion earlier about when the 92-year-old would be sworn in as the country's new leader.

At a press conference earlier on Thursday, Dr Mahathir put down the delays to fatigue caused by the late announcement of voting results — which stretched till well past 4am on Thursday — and confusion over what the country’s constitution says. But he emphasised repeatedly that there is an urgency for a government to be sworn in as the country is without leadership at the moment.

“There is a lot of work to be done. You know the mess the country is in, and we need to attend to this soon as possible, and that is today.”

The confusion, he said, stems from whether the constitution demands that the leader of the dominant party will be prime minister. But, he said, the rules are that the person with the support of the most elected members of parliament is entitled to become prime minister, and added, tongue-in-cheek, that that person "as you may heard is Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad".

"I want to emphasise that this party via Pakatan Harapan has already won a clear majority," he said, referring to the four-party opposition pact. "And therefore we are entitled to form the government." 

"We stand by the rule of law — whatever we do must be governed by the constitution and the laws of this country," he added. "The constitution says that the prime minister should have the support of a majority of the members of parliament. It does not say it should have the support of any party."

Saying the confusion has now been "cleared", he added that the leaders of the four parties forming the coalition have written a letter to the King, asking for the ceremony to swear in the prime minister "to take place now,” as he held up a copy of the letter.

He said that he has the support of “well over 135” members of parliament — including those from Warisan Sabah and other individuals — adding that Datuk Seri Najib Razak's role as the interim prime minister is over. "We must form the government, and we must form it now. We hope that by 5pm today, we will have a PM." 

Addressing rumours of palace intrigue and whether the Malaysian king was against swearing him in as leader, Dr Mahathir simply said it is not about "who likes you or not".

He noted that Datuk Seri Najib had made "a very gracious announcement" earlier on Thursday "by saying he accepts the will of the people and that he has lost".

"Well, he didn't say we have won but he emphasised that he is no longer the government," Dr Mahathir said.

By turns cheeky and serious, the former premier also fielded questions from the press horde.

Asked if the Pakatan Harapan coalition would seek the release of jailed leader Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir said it would be among the first orders of business, adding that they would not just seek his release, but a pardon, which would allow Anwar to take part in politics “immediately”.

He also reiterated that Pakatan Harapan was not seeking revenge against Datuk Seri Najib. "We don't punish people (just) because they don't agree with us."

Its aim, he said, was to return Malaysia to the rule of law. "The rule of law will be fully implemented and if the law says that Najib has done something wrong, then he will have to face the consequence."

Rounding out the press conference, he drew rousing applause when he proclaimed that the nationally unpopular Goods and Services Tax would be “cancelled”. “We don’t need it,” he said.

In a final dig at his opponents’ efforts to keep him from gaining support during the election campaign, including reports that his likeness was cut out from posters and flags, he beamed before the cameras and said, “now my face is no longer haram. I am not against the government now, you know?”

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