1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Malaysia's 97-year-old ex-PM to run in general election

November 5, 2022

Mahathir Mohamad, once a holder of the "world's oldest current prime minister" title, says he stands a "good chance" of winning.

Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, center, waves to his supporters outside the nomination center
Mahathir Mohamad announced his nomination in a highly competitive raceImage: Vincent Thian/AP/picture alliance

Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, on Saturday filed his candidacy for the upcoming general election, as campaigning formally kicked off. 

The 97-year-old politician twice held the office of prime minister and was named a Guinness World Record holder for being the "world's oldest current prime minister" in 2018. 

Mahathir is defending his parliamentary seat in the holiday island of Langkawi in the November 19 vote.

"This should be my last election. I didn't want to contest this time, but I did not finish my last term," he said.

Mahathir ruled the Southeast Asian nation from 1981 to 2003 and again from 2018 to 2020, but his government collapsed two years into his five-year term.

"I hope I can finish my job. I have a good chance of winning," he said.

While Mahathir is expected to win easily in Langkawi, a victory in the race for the premiership is far less likely.

At least four blocs — including the one he leads — are vying for a majority in the 222-seat lower house of parliament.

Former prime ministers in the race

Malaysia's caretaker Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob dissolved parliament last month, triggering a snap election 10 months ahead of schedule.

Ismail's move is seen as a bid for a stronger mandate for his party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which had been feuding with smaller parties in its coalition, the Barisan Nasional (BN). 

Ismail and former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin submitted their nomination papers on Saturday.

Muhyiddin, the former leader of the UMNO, currently leads the Perikatan Nasional (PN), or National Alliance coalition.

Also running is opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim of the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Anwar was jailed for a sodomy conviction that he said was politically motivated. The 75-year-old politician was pardoned in 2018 and was set to succeed Mahathir as prime minister, but infighting led the government to collapse. 

Uncertainty clouds election

Analysts expect the vote to be split due to the emergence of new political alliances.

No one faction is likely to achieve a simple majority and would instead need to work with other groups toward a coalition government. 

Some 6 million new voters are taking part in the election due to the voting age being lowered from 21 to 18 last year, adding further uncertainty. 

Meanwhile, there are fears that voter turnout could be affected by floods, with meteorological authorities warning that severe monsoon rains would start next week.

fb/nm (AFP, AP, Reuters)