92-year-old Mahathir sworn in as Malaysian PM

Malaysians vote in toughest election yet for ruling coalition

Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as Malaysia's seventh prime minister yesterday following his stunning election victory over the coalition that has ruled the Southeast Asian nation for six decades since independence from Britain.

In a ceremony in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Thursday night, the king administered the oath of office to Mahathir.

Mahathir, 92, was dressed in a traditional black "baju melayu" tunic and sarong with a Muslim songkok cap on his head.

Hundreds of Malaysians were lined up on the road leading to the palace, waving party flags and cheering.

The opposition alliance won a majority of seats in Wednesday's parliamentary election, beating the governing coalition led by Najib Razak.

Rising living costs also weighed heavily on many voters and saw them peel away from Mr Najib and his once unshakeable coalition.

Najib's BN coalition won 79 seats, a collapse from the 133 it won in the 2013 election, which was itself the coalition's worst poll performance ever at the time.

"There is an urgency here, we need to form the government now, today", Mahathir told reporters.

He said the chamber fully supports the new Federal Government leadership and hoped for good governance, transparency and corruption free practices to create trust among foreign investors investing in the country.

"We will try to make the ringgit as steady as possible".

But it started to attract negative attention in early 2015 after it missed payments for some of the $11bn it owed to banks and bondholders. "His Majesty strongly supports and respects the democratic process and the wishes of his subjects", it said.

Dr Mahathir also renewed his promise to seek to have his former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, released and pardoned. He came out of retirement to take on his former protege, Najib Razak, who was prime minister for almost a decade.

In Mr. Mahathir, the opposition found the ideal person to take on Mr. Najib.

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"What we want to do is to restore the rule of law", Mahathir said.

The row over the 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB) state investment fund dogged his predecessor, Najib Razak, and contributed to his shock defeat.

"This election has proved to us that we moved beyond racial politics", said Khoo Ying Hooi, a professor of worldwide and strategic studies at the University of Malaya.

Najib's campaign tried to paint Mahathir as a traitor to the Malay cause, but the nonagenarian's charisma and engaging oratory drew crowds running to thousands at campaign stops ahead of the election.

He said that he and his future administration will also get down to a lot of work from tomorrow, with the expected naming of his first Cabinet, after a meeting with the PH presidential council that comprises PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and PPBM president Muhyiddin Yassin.

Anwar was imprisoned, first by Mahathir on charges of corruption and sodomy.

Both Najib and 1MDB deny any wrongdoing.

"Ironically, the relationship between Malaysia and America was probably the strongest during the reign of our outgoing prime minister Najib Razak", he says.

Malaysia may renegotiate some deals with China, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday.

According to Mahathir, the people's main concern in the country was the economy.

Mahathir, who is Langkawi MP, said the message a PH government would send to the business community is that they can now push up prices in the stock market.

The new government would look into clawing back money allegedly looted from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, he said.

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