Mahathir will play statesman role when I become PM, says Anwar

Mahathir will play statesman role when I become PM, says Anwar

Anwar and Mahathir
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (R) and politician Anwar Ibrahim, leave after a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Jun 1, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

BANGI, Selangor: Parti Keadilan Rakyat's president Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday (May 15) that he will discuss the succession plan with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, with the latter playing the role of a statesman after stepping down. 

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the National Youth Convention 2019, Mr Anwar said the details of the succession plan, including the dates, would be agreed between them.

“I have no problem at all as Dr Mahathir has a role to play now and must be given space.

"Even if I take over the leadership, Dr Mahathir will still play the role of a statesman as he has contributed much to the country," said the prime minister-in-waiting, adding that communication between the two of them has been happening "in a good manner".

Dr Mahathir, who led Pakatan Harapan (PH) to a shock victory in the last general election, is back to helm the country as the seventh prime minister. 

Prior to the election, PH said Dr Mahathir would be the prime minister-designate, while Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail would be the deputy prime minister-designate. PH said Mr Anwar would be the country's eighth prime minister.

Mr Anwar was then serving a five-year sentence for sodomy, a charge he maintains to be politically motivated. 

Following PH’s victory, he received a royal pardon, and later returned to parliament as Port Dickson lawmaker via a by-election.

READ: Anwar insists he will not join Cabinet after swearing in as MP

The coalition was said to have agreed on a two-year period for Dr Mahathir to sit at the country’s highest office before passing the baton to Mr Anwar.

Dr Mahathir, who has often been asked about the transition, said that he would stay in power if people wanted him to serve beyond the agreed period.

However, he has repeatedly assured that he would honour the promise on power transfer, adding that he was only the “interim prime minister”.

On his part, Mr Anwar has publicly backed Dr Mahathir’s leadership, while holding fast to the two-year timeline.

READ: Anwar says no rush to be next Malaysian prime minister

Recently, Mr Anwar corrected chat show host Maya Karin during an interview when she asked how he would cope “if” he became prime minister next year at 72 years old.

He cut her off mid-sentence: “I thought … I heard ‘if’, not 'when'.”

“There was this understanding … agreement signed. I thought we will honour that commitment.”

“I think the country must move forward. Tun Mahathir has done his bit in terms of ensuring a peaceful transition and taking the initial measures. My task is, of course, to ensure that what has been promised will be honoured.”

Anwar Ibrahim
Mr Anwar Ibrahim delivering a talk at the National Youth Convention 2019 at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia on May 15, 2019. (Photo: Bernama) 

Commenting on the one-year anniversary of his release from prison, Mr Anwar said on Wednesday said he was grateful for his freedom.

“I am utilising my time to meet everyone. I go to districts and travel overseas to meet my old friends, leaders, communities, non-governmental organisations and activists.

“I am grateful that everything is fine,” he said.

Source: CNA/Bernama/tx(aw)

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