When a nonagenarian political veteran runs a campaign promising change, it’s only a matter of time before that message comes full circle. For Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, that means succession planning can’t be delayed any longer.

In May 2018, Mahathir pulled off a stunning election victory to lead Malaysia for a second time. In defeating Najib Razak, who denies allegations of siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars from a state investment fund, the prime minister promised a fresh start, free of corruption and full of economic opportunity. When the US-China trade war started that summer, many foreign observers looked to Malaysia as a potential winner from the conflict...

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