Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has lost his parliamentary seat in Saturday’s general elections, likely ending the career of one of Asia’s most enduring politicians.
Mahathir came in fourth in a five-way fight in his long-held constituency in the holiday resort island of Langkawi, the country’s election commission said on Saturday.
“It’s a major surprise that not only has he [Mahathir] lost, but he has lost in a spectacular fashion,” Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi, reporting from outside of Kuala Lumpur, said.
“He has not only lost his seat but has lost his deposit because he has not been able to get more than an eighth of votes cast. His party has also not managed to win a single seat.”
It was the 97-year-old’s first electoral defeat in more than half a century. He served as Malaysia’s prime minister for 22 years from 1981 to 2003.
He returned to politics two years ago in the wake of the multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB. Mahathir held the Guinness World Record for being the “world’s oldest current prime minister” when he became prime minister in 2018, just two months shy of his 93rd birthday.
Visibly slowed by age but still looking healthy, Mahathir ran this time around under his own Homeland Fighters’ Party and had laughed off suggestions he should retire, telling reporters before the election that he had a “good chance” of winning.
“I’m still standing around and talking to you, I think, making reasonable answers,” Mahathir said.
He added his party would not form any alliances with parties that are led by “crooks or jailbirds” – an apparent reference to the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the party of jailed former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition – which is dominated by his UMNO party – lost ground to rival alliances led by former Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.