Pakatan takes Putrajaya, buoyed by ‘Malay tsunami’

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reacts during a news conference in Petaling Jaya May 10, 2018.  — Reuters pic
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reacts during a news conference in Petaling Jaya May 10, 2018. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — At 92, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will not only become the world’s oldest prime minister when sworn in by Malaysia’s Yang di-Pertuan Agong today, but he has also deposed Umno, possibly the world’s longest ruling party.

Just before 3am this morning, Dr Mahathir and his Pakatan Harapan (PH) claimed they have achieved “a substantial majority” and the palace has contacted the pact to organise the swearing-in ceremony.

Formerly Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister of 22 years, Dr Mahathir will return with PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the country’s first female deputy minister.

He said his administration will work on the pardon “as soon as possible” for imprisoned PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is Dr Wan Azizah’s husband and Dr Mahathir’s former nemesis, so that Anwar can stand in an election and be appointed prime minister to replace him.

Dr Mahathir also said that he has asked the chief secretary to announce today and Friday as public holidays, as previously pledged by the pact.

“So you’re going to have four days of holidays but there will be no holiday for the winners,” he said in a press conference filled with witty remarks and jokes by Dr Mahathir, who increasingly looked giddy towards the end.

He also insisted that his government will not act against Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“We are not seeking revenge, we just want to restore the rule of law,” Dr Mahathir said, to cheers from the audience.

At 5am, the Election Commission announced that PH parties jointly won 113 seats. Parti Warisan Sabah won eight while STAR took one — both believed to be aligned with PH albeit informally.

BN retained just 79 seats or 54 fewer than what they won in 2013.

Islamist party PAS won 18, primarily in the east coast states of Kelantan and Terengganu.

A total of 112 seats out of 222 is required to form a simple majority.

In a series of press conferences early this morning, the Election Commission (EC) announced several other historic results, that PH had snatched Johor, Melaka and Negri Sembilan from BN for the first time.

The pact also retained Penang and Selangor with an overwhelming majority.

Islamist party PAS not only defended Kelantan, but also regained Terengganu.

BN managed to keep Pahang and Perlis, while Perak and Kedah remain hung.

Unofficial results released earlier by state news agency Bernama also announced shock defeats by top leaders from BN’s non-Malay component parties such as MCA, MIC and Gerakan.

MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai was said to have lost his Bentong parliamentary seat, while vice-president Datuk Chua Tee Yong reportedly lost Labis.

MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam also reportedly lost his Segamat seat, and so did Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong in Teluk Intan.

The historic result today signalled a possible swing of Malay voters support away from the BN — a term dubbed “Malay tsunami” by PH leaders.

Malay-Muslims make up just over 54 per cent of Malaysian voters, and have for decades been the foundation of BN’s electoral support, which the coalition has showered with affirmative action and handouts.

However, in recent years, PH has won them over amid the rising cost of living and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax — further galvanised by the entry of Dr Mahathir and his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).

The pact’s Islamic credentials also received a boost from cleric Nik Omar Nik Abdul Aziz, the son of late Kelantan mentri besar and Dr Mahathir’s adversary Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who went on the stump for PH in the Klang Valley from last week.

Dr Mahathir was also backed at the last minute by his former Cabinet ministers Tun Daim Zainuddin, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Tan Sri Rais Yatim and Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, with the first two even joining him in ceramah and small meets with voters in Malay heartlands.

But just days before Polling Day, BN chairman Najib had in a “live” TV interview insisted he does not believe that a “Malay tsunami” would happen in the polls, pointing instead to what he called the Opposition’s “tsunami of lies”.

Even into the early hours of this morning, Malaysians have been celebrating across the country as news of a PH victory has slowly unfolded, chanting, singing, waving PKR flags and setting off fireworks.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun has since said the post-election situation is so far under control and urged the public to keep calm as they wait for an official announcement, and refrain from staging protests.

In response to early results, BN Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said his coalition will “accept the will of the people”, as the coalition lost the lead.

“The wave of Tun Mahathir was too strong,” former finance minister II Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said in a separate statement.

BN and Najib will hold a press conference at 11am today to address the country, but has refused to divulge any details of the event.

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