KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 29 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed today resigned from UMNO on a similar ground as in 2008, over differences with the prime minister and UMNO president whom he himself had named and supported earlier. Today, he announced leaving the party he had led for 22 years because he disagreed with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak.
In the first instance, he declared leaving UMNO on May 19, 2008 as he did not agree with the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Being a vocal critic of the government and UMNO leadership was not something extraordinary in his political career for Dr Mahathir, 90, as he had been sacked from the party for criticising the party leadership four decades ago.
He was axed from UMNO on Sept 26, 1969 after criticising the administration of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the country’s first prime minister. After staying out of the party for three years, Dr Mahathir was brought back into UMNO on March 7, 1972 by second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
One year later, Tun Abdul Razak appointed Dr Mahathir as a senator. Dr Mahathir’s journey in politics began about 70 years ago when he was one of the earliest people to register as a member of the Malay party which had just been set up in 1946. In 1973, Dr Mahathir won in the contest for an UMNO Supreme Council seat with the highest votes, but lost in the contest for the post of vice-president.
In 1975, he won one of the three UMNO vice-president posts and the following year, he was appointed as deputy prime minister by Tun Hussein Onn who succeeded Tun Abdul Razak who passed away suddenly. In 1981, Hussein announced his retirement and named Dr Mahathir as his successor.
In 2002, Dr Mahathir made a sudden announcement to resign from all political posts he was holding including as UMNO president. However, he withdrew his decision after being persuaded by UMNO Supreme Council members and stayed on until Oct 31, 2003 when Dr Mahathir announced his retirement and named his deputy, Datuk Seri (now Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi or better known as Pak Lah, as his successor.