In a historic election upset in a country that has been governed by just one coalition for decades, a Malaysian opposition bloc led by the 92-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad swept to a majority in national parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in government funds, gave an emotional national address on Thursday, saying that he would “accept the verdict of the people.” But the election’s result has not yet been settled. The country’s king must now rule on who will be the next prime minister, as the loose coalition of opposition parties led by Mr. Mahathir is not officially recognized as a single political entity.
In the end, if Prime Minister Najib is ousted, he may become vulnerable to criminal prosecution. And he still faces a United States Justice Department investigation and efforts to recover $1.7 billion in assets said to be acquired with laundered money.
In a news conference Thursday, Mr. Mahathir called on the king to swear him in as prime minister by 5 p.m. “There is an urgency here. We need to form the government now, today,” he said.
Bernama, the government news agency, reported that the opposition had won 122 seats in Parliament, 10 more than needed to form a new government.