Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, Malaysian Prime Minister at his office. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

The overwhelming victory of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohammad in Malaysia’s general election has entrenched his position as the country’s leader and given him widespread power. The 13-party multiracial National Front Coalition controlled by Mahathir won 148 of the 177 seats in the next parliament, giving it the two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution if it thinks fit. Political analysts said the National Front swept to power again because there was no coalition alternative to which voters could turn. But the 24 seats won by the small, vociferous Chinese Opposition Democratic Action Party would give it a greater voice. It had ten seats in the last assembly. “The message is that the Government has always been true to its word, that it’s policies are proper and that all the rumours and allegations of government corruption are wrong,” Mahathir said. Mahathir said his controversial ‘Look East’ policy of trying to emulate the economic development of Japan and South Korea would remain in place despite setbacks to some projects.

Other important events:

1578 Portugal’s King Sebastian is killed when his forces, on a crusade to Morocco, are overwhelmed by a larger Moroccan army.

1902 The Greenwich foot tunnel under the River Thames opens.

1906 Central Railway Station in Sydney opens.

1907 French fleet bombards Casablanca, northwest Morocco, following anti-colonial demonstrations.

1914 Britain declares war on Germany.

1916 Denmark sells Danish Virgin Islands to the United States for $25 million (Dh91.8 million).

1922 Fighting breaks out between fascists and socialists in Italian cities.

1971 US Apollo 15 spacecraft heads back to Earth after a six-day mission exploring Moon.

1990 12 nations of European Community ban oil imports, embargo arms and suspend most trade with Iraq after invasion of Kuwait.

1991 The Greek cruise ship Oceanos sinks off South Africa’s rugged eastern coast.

1994 Yugoslavia withdraws support for Bosnia’s Serbs.

1995 Croatia launches a massive attack on breakaway Serbs, bombarding rebel towns and shelling UN peacekeepers.

1996 South Africa’s Josiah Thugwane becomes the first black South African to win a Games gold in Atlanta.

1997 Australia’s Cathy Freeman becomes the first aboriginal athlete to capture a world or Olympic track title at the 400-metres at the World Championships.

2002 In an electoral tie, Bolivia’s Congress selects Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a wealthy mining magnate and former president, as the country’s next president.

2005 An Air France A340 jet with 309 people aboard overshoots the runway at Toronto international airport and burst into flames after plunging into a muddy ravine.

2007 The Turkish parliament dominated by the Islamic-oriented party of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is sworn in.

2010 Laura Dekker, a 14-year-old Dutch, sails from the Den Osse harbour in the hopes of becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the world.

2012 American swimmer Michael Phelps becomes the most decorated Olympian ever with 22 Olympic medals.

2013 A horrific crash in Saudi Arabia leaves 14 people dead and three injured.

2014 An overloaded ferry sinks in rough conditions in central Bangladesh at least 120 people are killed.

2015 A three-storey building collapses in Thane township, Mumbai, killing at least 12 people.