I will set date to hand over to Anwar: Mahathir

A week after Malaysia's two biggest Malay Muslim parties, Umno and PAS, officially joined hands, this new opposition alliance and the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition have locked horns in espousing new policies both claim will benefit the majority community. In Kampung Baru yesterday, PH outlined plans to finally develop the Malay enclave located just a stone's throw away from the Petronas Twin Towers, after years of stalemate when Umno was in power. Meanwhile, at the nearby Umno headquarters, the once dominant party and new ally Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) told a forum how the pro-Malay New Economic Policy remains relevant nearly half a century since it was introduced.

A Sept 18 photo showing Dr Mahathir at a news conference in Putrajaya.
A Sept 18 photo showing Dr Mahathir at a news conference in Putrajaya.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said that he would be setting the time and date for the handover of the premiership to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

"I will announce (the date) later, but I will keep my promise," Tun Dr Mahathir told reporters after attending an event last Friday.

The question over the handover has blown hot and cold over months, as the four-party Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance has governed Malaysia for 1½ years after its unexpected victory in the May 2018 General Election.

Leaders of PH had informally agreed Dr Mahathir, 94, would lead Malaysia should it win power, but that he would pass the baton to Mr Anwar, 72, after around two years.

Dr Mahathir has said several times that he would keep his promise to pass the premiership to Mr Anwar, the MP for Port Dickson, but has been coy about the exact timing.

The handover issue rose again after Mr Anwar, in an interview with Bloomberg Television last Wednesday, said: "There is an understanding that it should be around that time (next year) but I don't think I should be too petty about the exact month. But there is this understanding that he will resign at the appropriate time."

Mr Anwar, president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) - the biggest party in Parliament with 50 MPs - was asked in that interview if the transition would happen two years after Dr Mahathir took power.

In the interview, Mr Anwar dismissed reports that the PKR deputy president, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, or Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir - the Prime Minister's son - would be considered for the premiership instead of him.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 22, 2019, with the headline 'I will set date to hand over to Anwar: Mahathir'. Print Edition | Subscribe