Mahathir to stay up to two years as Malaysia PM

Mahathir Mohamad insisted that he respected the right to freedom of speech but the move is likely to alarm liberals

"In the initial stages, maybe lasting one or two years, I will be the prime minister and I will run the country", Mahathir told a Wall Street Journal conference via a video link.

Mahathir - who ruled Malaysia from 1981-2003 - came out of retirement to oust scandal-tainted former premier Najib Razak in an astonishing election turnaround last week.

"I will play a role in the background even when I step down", he added, however.

In the immediate future, however, Dr Mahathir said Mr Anwar will play the same role in the PKR coalition as leaders of the other three parties in the alliance. Mahathir has ordered him barred from leaving the country.

In a U-turn previous year, Anwar shook hands with Mahathir and agreed to join forces to oust scandal-tainted Najib. The 70-year-old Anwar is still serving a five-year jail term after he was found guilty on a sodomy charge in 2015. He and his supporters have said the charges are politically motivated by Najib to end his career.

Both police officers said investigators were not primarily interested in the luxury items but were chasing documents that could be vital for investigations into Najib's administration.Kuala Lumpur's police chief and an official police spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.Najib said earlier on Saturday that he was going overseas for a week to rest, but just minutes later the Department of Immigration announced that he and his wife had been barred from leaving the country.

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When asked if he might be willing to cut a deal to spare Datuk Seri Najib, if he were to offer information that can recover assets to recover part of the US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) that is allegedly lost by 1MDB, Dr Mahathir would only say: "No deal".

1MDB is now under global probes in at least six countries, including Switzerland and Singapore, over charges of money laundering and bribery.

Billions of dollars are believed to have been siphoned off from the fund, with most reportedly disappearing overseas, while $681 million also mysteriously appeared in Najib's personal bank accounts in 2013.

In his Tuesday remarks, Mahathir said whether Najib would serve time in jail would depend on the results of a probe into the scandal. "We think in a short while, we will have a case against him, we will be able to charge him", Mahathir said.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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