KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian civil society on Wednesday (Aug 7) urged Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to put in place a clear succession plan, and to appoint Mr Anwar Ibrahim as deputy prime minister six months prior to the takeover date for a smooth transition.
In a statement, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, or Bersih 2.0, together with the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia and umbrella organisation Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia, urged the prime minister to take “clear and decisive steps” for the sake of political stability.
“With a clear and publicly known transition plan, it would quash rumours and conspiracy theories perpetrated by those who seek to gain from the instability and see the breakup of the (ruling) coalition,” it read.
Last year, Dr Mahathir returned from retirement to lead Pakatan Harapan (PH) to score a historic win in the 14th general election and dethroned the Barisan Nasional coalition from its six-decade rule.
While Dr Mahathir was appointed as prime minister, an eventual handover of the premiership to Mr Anwar, Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) president, was on the cards.
Describing himself as the “interim prime minister”, Dr Mahathir, who turned 94 last month, said he would adhere to the succession plan but has appeared to be non-committal over the deadline.
PKR had said that the agreement was for Mr Anwar to take over in two years’ time, but others including Dr Mahathir’s son Mr Mukhriz Mahathir, said there has never been an agreed timeline.
In the meantime, a turmoil within PKR over a gay sex video had split the party into two – one backing Mr Anwar as the prime minister-in-waiting, while another calling for Dr Mahathir to serve out his full term.
The civil society organisations, in their Wednesday statement, cautioned against political chaos.
“The current feud in PKR, a major component party of the PH coalition, is causing much concern among both our citizens and the international community as it has the potential to break up the coalition and cast our nation into political disarray,” they said.
They also reminded PH to fulfill its election manifesto of limiting the tenure of prime minister to two terms, reducing the concentration of executive power in the hands of the prime minister and hastening institutional reforms.
“PH has nearly four years of its remaining term to deliver its promise of reforms and prosperity for this nation. Restore political stability and govern now for the remainder of its term.”
Bersih 2.0, an electoral watchdog, has a huge following among Malaysians. It is highly regarded for its efforts in championing electoral reforms and has successfully mobilised Malaysians by the thousands to participate in rallies.
Its former chairman, Mdm Maria Chin Abdullah, stood in the general election last year and won the Petaling Jaya parliamentary seat.