Mahathir : Government hopes new king will be elected soon

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KUALA TERENGGANU (Jan 7): Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the government hopes that the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong would be elected as soon as possible.

Dr Mahathir said the election had to be expedited because he had to have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan  Agong on certain matters.

“The government accepts the decision of (the Sultan of Kelantan) Sultan Muhammad V to step down. It is in accordance with the constitution,” he told reporters after opening the Terengganu office of Parti Pribumi  Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) here.

Also present were Dr Mahathir’s wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, and Bersatu Terengganu chairman Datuk Razali Idris.

Istana Negara, in a statement released yesterday by Datuk Pengelola Bijaya Diraja (Comptroller of the Royal Household) Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz, announced the resignation of Sultan Muhammad V who had reigned as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong from Dec 13, 2016.

Dr Mahathir  said the Conference of Rulers had rules and procedures pertaining to the succession of the King, which were enshrined in the Constitution.

Asked about Sultan Muhammad V’s successor, Dr Mahathir said that he would in no way interfere in the matter and that the final decision lay with the Conference of Rulers.

"We (Government) will not interfere in this matter. The next Yang di-Pertuan Agong will be determined by the Conference of Rulers. I do not know how it is done  and according to their (Malay rulers) tradition, they have their own arrangements,” he said.

Meanwhile, commenting on  the performance of the current Cabinet ministers, Dr Mahathir said overall he was satisfied with how they were  doing.

"We must remember  that they are  members of a new Cabinet and had never been ministers before. They had been very vocal when they were in the opposition and now have to adapt to the new situation,"  he said.

He said they should be given a chance to prove themselves and that there was no necessity to replace them with new ministers.

Meantime,  Dr Mahathir, who is also Bersatu chairman, urged all quarters to understand why he often prioritised problems by the Malays.

He said it was because he wanted them to rise up and be progressive like the other races.

"Bersatu will always give priority to the problems faced by the Malays who are still a race that is poor.

"Changes must be made so that the Malays can enjoy the wealth of the country. So that in the end we do not fall very far behind,” he added.

In his speech when opening the new Bersatu office, Dr Mahathir said Bersatu can replace UMNO in championing the wellbeing of the Malays and hoped the support would be reciprocated.

Dr Mahathir also wanted Bersatu not to make the same mistakes as UMNO and the Barisan Nasional which paid heavily for their failures.

"If this happens (making the same mistakes), the existing government won’t last long,” he said.