It was a pleasant surprise when I woke up to the news today that Dr Mahathir Mohamed is set to be back as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The elections were over only yesterday and I did not expect the results to be out so early. Unlike in India where they take their own sweet time to even start counting the votes, giving room for doubts on rigging! That’s democracy, India-style!
His stunning return to power is a testament to his personal popularity as well as to the strength of the Pakatan Harappan (PH) coalition he led.
With the victory, Dr Mahathir left his protege, Mr Najib Razak, scrambling for cover, even cancelling a scheduled press conference. Barisa Nasional (BN) that Mr Razak helmed has been in power for the last 60 years. BN is also the party that was headed by Dr Mahathir during his governance.
Fit as a Fiddle: Though I do not follow Malaysian politics much, I was hoping Dr Mahathir would pull it off. So what if he is 92? He appears as fit and energetic as a 29-year-old and is a medical doctor.
Importantly, he is expected to hand over the reins to Mr Anwar Ibrahim sometime after his release from jail. Mr Anwar was Deputy Prime Minister in the government of Dr Mahathir who had sacked him in 1999. Mr Anwar was subsequently jailed on some sodomy-related charges.
Years later, Dr Mahathir had publicly acknowledged that he erred in his decision and apologised to Mr Anwar.
Dr Mahathir had relinquished prime ministership in 2003 after ruling the country non-stop since 1981.
The state of affairs in Malaysia since then, with some financial scandals not doing any credit for Mr Najib Razak, had seen Dr Mahathir come down heavily on the Government before throwing himself in the electoral ring.
Dr Mahathir is expected to be sworn in later today.
G Joslin Vethakumar