Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad is confident opposition parties can defeat Prime Minister Najib Razak in the country's next general election — an event that could see the 91-year-old return to power.
"If public opinion is to be taken into account, our chances are very good," he told CNBC in Tokyo, on the sidelines of the International Conference on the Future of Asia.
Speaking to a business forum at the conference, Mahathir also stated he was willing to temporarily step in as PM if there was no acceptable candidate following an opposition victory, according to Reuters. The next election has to be held by August 2018.
Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister, Mahathir launched the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (PPBM) earlier this year in the aim of overthrowing Najib, whose domestic and international standings have been hit amid his alleged role in a multi-billion dollar corruption scandal. Najib has denied the accusations.
Having unsuccessfully tried other means to topple Najib, including a vote of no-confidence and reporting the PM's misdeeds to the police, Mahathir told CNBC he was now depending on elections to achieve his goal.
"We find that (Najib's) policy is his tendency to borrow huge sums of money, which subsequently disappears and appears in his own account. I think this is very wrong indeed, and such a Prime Minister needs to be removed."
Mahathir also slammed Najib's relationship with China, noting the present government was cozying up to Beijing in the hopes of borrowing money.