News analysis

22 years on, old friends pick Mahathir over Anwar again

Pakatan Harapan supporters in Johor Baru celebrating PH's victory in Malaysia's general election in May 2018. Malaysia could yet again go to the polls to choose between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Mr Anwar Ibrahim in 2023.
Pakatan Harapan supporters in Johor Baru celebrating PH's victory in Malaysia's general election in May 2018. Malaysia could yet again go to the polls to choose between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Mr Anwar Ibrahim in 2023.ST FILE PHOTO

It was the worst-kept secret in Malaysia. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad never wanted to hand the reins over to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as agreed by Pakatan Harapan (PH) months before Malaysia's first-ever change of government in May 2018.

But it was a necessary deal to muster the broad support needed to oust then premier Najib Razak, who had lost the favour of the widely influential Tun Dr Mahathir after the 1MDB scandal began plaguing the once dominant Umno since 2015.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2020, with the headline '22 years on, old friends pick Mahathir over Anwar again'. Subscribe