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Former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad expelled from his own political party amidst rumours of power tussle

The party claimed that Mahathir had automatically stopped being a party member after he chose to reject Muhiyuddin's leadership as prime minister and party president by aligning with the opposition.

The former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad has been sacked by his own political party after sitting on opposition benches despite being a ruling party member during a May 18 parliamentary session. The 94-year-old Mohamad was ousted along with his son and three senior members from the United Indigenous Party of Malaysia (Bersatu party), a political party which he co-founded, on Thursday.

Mohamad was ostensibly fired from the party for not rallying behind the Malaysian government which is led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the Bersatu president.

According to a letter that was widely shared on social media, the party claimed that Mahathir had automatically stopped being a party member after he chose to reject Muhiyuddin’s leadership as prime minister and party president by aligning with the opposition.

The intra-party political wrangling started in February this year when Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly tendered his resignation, triggering a week-long frenetic power tussle. The crisis terminated when the king appointed Muhyiddin Yassin as a successor despite Mahathir’s clear objections.

Shortly after resigning, Mahathir decided to become the prime minister again and resentfully disapproved of the government and decried Yassin as a traitor.

Mahathir co-founded Bersatu party with Muhyiddin in 2016, and the party joined an alliance that registered a thumping victory in 2018 polls, resulting in the first change of government since its independence.

On May 18, an indignant Mahathir sought a confidence vote in Muhyiddin but the parliamentary proceedings were disrupted by King Abdullah’s speech, sparking a livid reaction from Mahathir who furiously proclaimed “democracy is dead” in Malaysia.

Mahathir Mohamad’s hostility towards India

It is worth noting that the former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had been particularly ill-disposed towards India. In his speech at the UNGA last year, Mahathir had stated that Jammu and Kashmir has been invaded and occupied by India.

Following his critical remarks against India’s internal decision to abrogate Article 370, the former Malaysian Prime Minister even ventured to slam the Citizenship Amendment Act legislated by the Indian government. Mohamad stood so resolute in his criticism of the Indian government that when the threat of palm oil curbs from India loomed on his country, he defended his remarks against India on Jammu and Kashmir and the CAA by claiming to remain firm on his stand.

Besides, another bone of contention between the two countries was in connection with Malaysia sheltering radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who has been accused of money laundering and hate speech in India. The Malaysian PM had said that even if the Indian government guarantees a fair trial for Naik, he faces a serious threat of “vigilante action” in India and that Malaysia would relocate the preacher only if it could find a third country where he would be safe.

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