(Updates with Mahathir confirming resignation)
KUALA LUMPUR Dec 2 Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's
long-serving former prime minister, said on Monday he had
resigned as an adviser to state-run oil company Petronas
, ending an almost decade-long tenure in the energy
major that is Malaysia's only Fortune 500 company.
The 88-year-old Mahathir told reporters he resigned,
effective Dec. 1, because doctors had advised him to "slow
His departure, however, comes as relations with Prime
Minister Najib Razak have grown strained in recent months,
particularly over Najib's refusal to endorse Mahathir's son for
an influential ruling party post. The Petronas board reports
directly to the prime minister.
Petronas declined to comment and it was not immediately
clear what effect Mahathir's absence would have on the company.
Mahathir's office said he had informed Najib of his resignation
in a hand-written note, but gave no further details.
Mahathir was admitted to hospital last month for a chest
infection, although he has generally been in good health,
frequently giving interviews and criticising the government from
The news of Mahathir's resignation coincided with the first
day of the ruling United Malays National Organisation's (UMNO's)
annual general assembly, which Mahathir was expected to attend.
Mahathir's son, Mukhriz, lost his bid for the influential
post of one of three UMNO vice presidents in a party vote in
October. All posts were filled by candidates backed by Najib.
Mahathir, who still holds political clout within UMNO,
criticised Najib just before the vote, telling Reuters in an
interview that the prime minister had only stayed in power after
a poor election showing in May because of a lack of viable
Mahathir stepped down as prime minister after 22 years in
power and was appointed as an adviser to Petronas and national
carmaker Proton, which is owned by DRB-Hicom.
Mahathir would retain his several other advisory positions,
his office said.
His advisory roles at Petronas and Proton have been
criticised by some opposition politicians, who say Mahathir has
used his influence to ensure contracts go to allies and business
associates. Mahathir has denied such accusations.
Petronas, widely seen as one of Malaysia's most efficient
state firms, is a global energy player which last year spent
around $5 billion on shale energy assets in Canada.
At home, it remains under pressure to fulfil a social and
political role. It is by far the government's biggest revenue
source and a pillar of a longstanding national policy to promote
a bigger economic role for majority ethnic Malays.
(Reporting by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Ron Popeski and