Anwar dismisses Mahathir's claim he was 'crazy' for prime minister post

Datuk Seri Anwar waited almost two years for Dr Mahathir to hand over the reins. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim has dismissed former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's claim that he was impatient to take over the premiership.

Datuk Seri Anwar was asked to comment on Tun Dr Mahathir's comment last month that he was "crazy" for the prime minister post during an interview with the BFM radio station on Wednesday (April 29), The New Straits Times reported.

Mr Anwar admitted in the interview that he was disappointed at not having had the chance to take on the top job throughout his nearly 40-year career in politics. But he made it clear that he would not want to shoulder that burden if he was fortunate enough to live until his 90s, in a pointed remark at the 94-year-old Dr Mahathir who was PM until he resigned abruptly on Feb 24 amid a political crisis that brought down their Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition.

"Who is crazy to continue to be PM at the age of 90 or 95?" Mr Anwar was quoted saying in the interview.

"It doesn't make sense. It's unlikely that I would wait until I'm 90 before I can function effectively as the leader of the country," he said.

"I don't think I need to wait 20 more years. That has never crossed my mind," he added.

Mr Anwar had waited on the sidelines for nearly two years for Dr Mahathir to hand over the reins, as promised under an agreement they made during the 2018 election campaign when they joined forces to take down the Barisan Nasional government.

Dr Mahathir previously stated that he would hand over power to Mr Anwar only after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in November which Malaysia is hosting.

Dr Mahathir had reportedly hit out at Mr Anwar's impatience during a closed door meeting with his Bersatu party Youth and Women leaders as well as division chiefs at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in March.

"Anwar was definitely 'crazy' about becoming the Prime Minister. But he cannot be (PM) because in the past, he had so much support. But now, people support me and saying please do not let him become (PM)," Dr Mahathir had been quoted saying.

The dispute over the leadership transition eventually led to the collapse at the end of February of the 22-month-old PH government that had consisted of Mr Anwar's PKR, Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, along with the Democratic Action Party and Parti Amanah Negara.

PH was quickly replaced by the Perikatan Nasional alliance cobbled together by Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, who is now the country's Prime Minister.

Asked if he still wanted to be PM, Mr Anwar, who remains the de facto PH chief, said he was open to the possibility if it happened within the next eight years, should the PH alliance return to power and his health permitted it.

"Given the opportunity, I think the country needs reform, and I think I can play a small part in that process," he said.

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