The ex Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has given his support for the chief minister of the Borneon state of Sabah as the candidate for leading the nation, a statement from Mahathir mentioned on Sunday.

Mahathir mentioned that the supporters and the allies had unanimously agreed in a meeting on Thursday for nominating Shafie Apdal, among the early leaders who opposed the government of Najib Razak that Mahathir ousted in 2018, as the next prime minister.

Mahathir Supporting Chief Minister of Borneon State of Sabah

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad Wikimedia Commons

"I fully support this proposal," Mahathir said. "The important thing is that we have a solid stand for the people to know our position." Malaysia's next national elections are due by September 2023 but there has been speculation of an earlier snap poll. Thursday's meeting also agreed to propose Mahathir's former deputy-turned-rival Anwar Ibrahim, and his son Mukhriz Mahathir, as deputy prime ministers.

Malaysia's opposition has been scrambling in recent weeks to muster a credible candidate to spearhead its challenge to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's administration but was unable to decide between Mahathir or Anwar. The veteran politicians had joined hands in 2018 to oust the then prime minister Najib, with Anwar becoming Mahathir's successor in waiting.

Muhyiddin was unexpectedly made prime minister in March after a week of political turmoil punctuated by Mahathir's shock resignation. Mahathir has pushed for a confidence vote in parliament in Muhyiddin's leadership and said he would seek to oust him for bringing back to power a graft-tainted party rejected by voters in a historic election two years ago.

(With agency inputs)