Malaysia's Mahathir says will focus on writing after poll defeat

Malaysia’s nonagenarian former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, one of the world's longest-serving politicians, said Wednesday he will focus on writing after he suffered his first electoral defeat in more than half a century.

The 97-year-old statesman came fourth in a five-way fight for his long-held constituency on the resort island Langkawi in Saturday's election.

Commenting for the first time since his defeat, Mahathir accepted his loss but did not say whether he would quit politics.

For the moment, he said he would write about the country's history.

"Many events that happened in the country have not yet been recorded, including what happened during British rule," he wrote on his Facebook page.

During his first year in power in 1981, Mahathir restricted the entry of British imports and contracts in a policy known as "Buy British Last" over certain "aggravations" by the former colonisers.

However, he also mourned the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II, saying "she was a good example of a constitutional monarch".

A maverick known for his acerbic language and anti-Western tirades, Mahathir is a prolific writer with a blog and numerous book titles to his name.

He held the Guinness World Record for being the "world's oldest current prime minister" when he became premier for a second time in 2018 just two months shy of his 93rd birthday.

During his first stint in power from 1981 to 2003, he was criticised for ruling the Southeast Asian nation with an iron fist, but he was also hailed for transforming Malaysia from a sleepy backwater into one of the world's top exporters of high-tech goods.

He came out of his 15-year retirement to lead the opposition Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) coalition in the 2018 contest amid public anger over then-incumbent Najib Razak's role in the massive embezzlement scandal at state fund 1MDB.

The reformist bloc won and Mahathir became prime minister for a second time but his government collapsed in less than two years due to infighting.