KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has once again reiterated that he would adhere to an agreement within the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition to hand over to Mr Anwar Ibrahim.
This came just as the opposition called on the veteran politician to serve for the full term, with the suggestion being backed by Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali.
In an interview with Turkish news channel TRT World aired on Monday (Jul 29), Dr Mahathir stated: “I’m not going against my own promise. Whatever happens, I will stick to the promise I made.”
“The thing is that during the time when we (PH) were fighting against Najib (before the May 2018 general election), we regarded pulling down Najib as more important that our personal relations,” he added.
He was responding to a question on whether there has been any change in the succession plan, given recent signs of tension between Mr Anwar and Mr Azmin, the top leaders of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) over a sex video scandal.
However, Dr Mahathir noted during the interview that the handover timeline is “is very difficult to predict”.
“The thing is that at this moment we see already a lot of improvements in the situation of the country.
“And I think in maybe a year or two we would be able to reverse the process so much so that the country would be able to succeed as before,” he said.
In the May 2018 general election, Dr Mahathir led the PH pact to defeat and replace Barisan Nasional as the ruling coalition.
It was agreed that Mr Anwar, who was still in prison until a royal pardon was granted on May 16, 2018, would take over the premiership from Dr Mahathir.
While PKR said a timeline of two years was set, Dr Mahathir has appeared to be non-committal over the deadline of the handover.
Last month, Dr Mahathir said he will not serve beyond three years.
MALAYSIANS YEARN FOR COUNTRY TO BECOME ASIAN TIGER AGAIN: MAHATHIR
During the interview, Dr Mahathir was also asked to comment on the recent results of an online survey by YouGov, which indicated that he was Malaysia’s most admired man in 2019.
The prime minister said the result was likely due to a yearning among Malaysians to return to the period of his first stint in office, when the country transitioned from an agrarian economy to a regional industrial powerhouse.
“They identify me with the development of Malaysia and they believe that I would be able to reverse the process and maybe make Malaysia an Asian Tiger again,” he said.
“We want to have the people feel they have a good government in place.”