SINGAPORE: Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim reiterated that there is no rush for him to be prime minister as the country needs stability a strong leader now.
“The succession plan has been agreed that (Prime Minister) Mahathir (Mohamad) conducts the affairs of the state, and we support him. That is important.
“And I do not think we should be rushing into it as he is playing a very critical role for the country. The country needs stability and a strong leader now and I want to make sure that he is effective in his position,” said Anwar.
He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a forum at Singapore Summit 2018 held at Shangri-La Hotel.
It is his first visit to Singapore since he was released from prison in May.
During the forum earlier, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president-elect said he will not take his upcoming by-election in Port Dickson for granted. He needs a seat in parliament before eventually succeeding Dr Mahathir as prime minister.
“I don’t take things for granted. I have been in politics for a long time,” said Anwar.
"I will go down (there) to appeal to the voters, and (the demographics) is very mixed ... it's about 50 per cent Malays, 30 per cent Chinese and almost 20 per cent Indians.
"So it's really a microcosm of Malaysian society, and I want to make sure, God willing, that I get a majority of the Malay votes, the majority of Indian votes and the majority of Chinese,” he added.
When reporters asked Anwar if he is concerned that UMNO has approached Mahathir’s party Bersatu for an alliance, he said: “Why worry? They can approach any Pakatan coalition members. It is not a problem.”
Anwar was responding to a news report on veteran newsman A Kadir Jasin, who said word has been going around that UMNO leaders, including its president and Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, had met with Mahathir to discuss an UMNO-Bersatu merger.
On whether he welcomed UMNO to join Pakatan, Anwar said: “Certainly not now. We have not considered this.”
Asked if this could happen in the future, Anwar replied: “Que sera sera. But for now, certainly not in the equation.”
Anwar was also asked if his daughter Nurul Izzah or his wife, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, should have Cabinet positions when he becomes prime minister.
“Our position is Wan Azizah has to step down when I assume office,” Anwar reiterated.
“This has been announced right at the beginning. And for Nurul Izzah, let's see what her position is. I don't know and won't speculate,” he added.
Nurul Izzah is the current Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh.