I was duped by Mahathir in PM succession plan: Anwar

Malaysia's opposition chief says many did not want him to be PM, playing the racial card

PETALING JAYA • Malaysia's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim says he now realises that he was duped by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when the latter promised to hand over the country's top job to him, Sin Chew Daily reported.

In an exclusive interview with the newspaper, Datuk Seri Anwar, leader of the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, said that right from the get go, he had believed that then Prime Minister Mahathir would fulfil the pact's agreement to hand over the baton to him after serving two years in office.

Dr Mahathir was prime minister from May 2018, after PH won the general election.

"We did not know earlier but we know now," Mr Anwar was quoted as saying in the interview.

However, Dr Mahathir kept moving the date for the handover before finally saying he would vacate the post only after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting this November.

On Feb 24, Dr Mahathir resigned as prime minister without informing PH party leaders. Lawmakers from his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia then exited PH, leaving the coalition short of a majority in Parliament.

This led to the collapse of the PH-led government, which voided the succession plan.

Mr Anwar said he knew many were against him becoming prime minister. "Many billionaires, including a rich Malay whom I know. I also know those corrupt ones were against me too. They are playing the racial card by saying 'Anwar is not very Malay, and he does not protect the Malays'."

The former deputy prime minister said he believed in enhancing the economy for all Malaysians.

"Everyone can be successful. We should support the ones with potential, including Chinese entrepreneurs. I am concerned with the welfare of the people. I hate those who steal from the poor."

Mr Anwar also maintained that Dr Mahathir's resignation as prime minister was the main cause of the collapse of the 22-month-old PH government. If Dr Mahathir did not resign, PH would still be the government now, he said, adding that all internal coalition issues could have been dealt with.

TRAITORS

It is a fact there are traitors in PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. But do you think those traitors mushroomed in one week? They must have planned this a long time ago. The question is, why do we allow such a scenario to occur?

 MR ANWAR IBRAHIM

"It is a fact there are traitors in PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. But do you think those traitors mushroomed in one week? They must have planned this a long time ago. The question is, why do we allow such a scenario to occur?"

He also said he did not know whether Dr Mahathir, who is former Bersatu chairman, was responsible for planning the exit of Bersatu from PH.

Mr Anwar denied, however, that Dr Mahathir resigned due to pressure from PKR grassroots for him to vacate the post to make way for Mr Anwar.

"Why was there pressure? Because he (Dr Mahathir) did not seem to be leaving," said Mr Anwar, who added that while he could still communicate with Dr Mahathir, he would never endorse him as prime minister again.

"Dr Mahathir is unable to garner support (to rule) from the majority of MPs," said Mr Anwar.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2020, with the headline 'I was duped by Mahathir in PM succession plan: Anwar'. Print Edition | Subscribe