KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Harapan (PH) leader Mahathir Mohamad said he wants a newly formed Malaysian government under his leadership by 5pm on Thursday (May 10), following the coalition's stunning and unexpected election victory.
"We need to form the government now. Najib’s rule as an interim government is over," Mahathir told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, flanked by PH leaders Wan Azizah and Lim Guan Eng.
"Najib has accepted the will of the people that he has lost.”
He added: “Any delay means we will have no government. No government, no law. There is urgency here."
There has been an unusual delay to the normal proceedings of Mahathir’s ascension to power, a return to the prime ministership for the nonagenarian following his previous 22-year rule.
Typically the prime minister is sworn in the day following the general election.
However, this is the first time in Malaysia’s modern history that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has failed to be elected.
Official voting results to date show PH winning 113 seats in the 222-seat federal parliament. BN won 79 seats, while the Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) took 15.
Mahathir said in the early hours of Thursday morning that his swearing-in ceremony would take place on the same day.
But roads were blocked to the main entrance of the national palace - the Istana Negara - on Thursday morning and there has been no confirmation of when that ceremony might occur.
The process is reliant on Malaysia’s king, Sultan Muhammad V.
At his presser, Mahathir did not comment on the reasons for the delay nor whether his chequered relationship with royal power apparatuses within the country had any impact.
Earlier on Thursday, BN leader Najib Razak held a news conference, his first public appearance since the polls closed, saying he would accept the will of the people.
“I accept the verdict of the people. We did out best. We’re proud of our record,” he said. "It's clear what we did is less appealing than what was offered by the opposition."
Najib argued, however, that no one party had a simple majority in the election, suggesting it was not inevitable that Pakatan Harapan, a loosely bound group of four diverse political parties, could form a workable government.
Mahathir countered that he would produce a statement of declaration of support from 135 elected opposition officials for him to stand as their leader, to be given to the king.
He also swore not to take revenge on the former rulers of the country but would assess their culpability for alleged past misdoings using the “rule of law”.
He said: "If the law says Najib has done something wrong, he will face the consequences."
The controversial "fake news" law recently passed by the Najib administration could also come under review.
“The law should be studied again, whether it is against fake news or political opponents – at the moment it is to silence opposition,” Mahathir said.
“We need to study all the things done by the previous government.”