KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he will not step down as Malaysia's prime minister until he has resolved the problems facing the country.
The problems, he said, included recovering the billions lost through 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), finding and trying fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, and stamping out corruption in the public service.
In an interview with the Financial Times, published on Wednesday (Nov 6), Dr Mahathir said there was no actual date or time mentioned for him to step down.
"The actual time that I will be there depends on the problems that we face," he said.
"I've had some experience solving financial problems, so they want me to solve the problems before I step down."
"I mentioned at the time when they appointed me that I would not be permanently there, that means that I wouldn't finish a whole term."
Asked if he still stood by his insistence that Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim would be the person to succeed him, Dr Mahathir said yes without hesitation and pointed out that he had promised this.
Dr Mahathir was also asked about conspiracy theories that he did not plan to leave the prime minister's post.
He explained that he needed to be careful in appointing a successor due to his previous "mistakes".
"I have made many mistakes in appointing my successors, so I don't want to make another mistake this time," he said.
When asked if his reluctance to relinquish the position quickly also meant he considered himself the only person suited to the challenge of leading Malaysia now, Dr Mahathir said: "At the moment, maybe."
Dr Mahathir expressed disappointment with Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his immediate successor who took over in 2003, as well as Najib Razak, both of whom rose under Dr Mahathir’s guidance.
“One is very nervous about just letting go of the country to successors.” Mr Abdullah served as Malaysia’s prime minister from 2003 to 2009, while Mr Najib took over from 2009 until Barisan Nasional’s loss in the 14th general election last year.
Dr Mahathir was a frequent critic of Mr Abdullah's handling of the economy and weakness on corruption. Mr Abdullah also cancelled mega-projects that Dr Mahathir had supported.
Last year, Dr Mahathir said that, because of the 1MDB scandal, choosing Najib was the biggest mistake of his life.