Malaysia's Mahathir says in a hurry as he does not have much time left to live

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in an interview with a Malaysian business weekly that he must continue to work together with his handpicked ministers, some of whom have shown promising potential. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said that he is in a hurry to get things done as he does not have much time left to live.

"I am lucky I survived this long. Actually, I should not be around to watch what happened with my predecessors (former prime ministers Najib Razak and Tun Abdullah Badawi) but I am lucky in the sense that I am not only older, but still able to function.

"But I realise that I am very old, and very soon I will weaken and I will die. So, I am always in a hurry. Other people seem to take things easy, but I am in a hurry because I realise I don't have much time to do the things that I feel need to be done in this country," he told Focus Malaysia business magazine in an interview, as reported by The Star on Saturday (March 30).

Dr Mahathir, 93, also said he would do his best as long as he was still prime minister. "I was only told that I am the choice for prime ministership from the opposition coalition, but they didn't specifically say when.

"They have said that I am the interim and that somebody will take over. I suppose that may be long before the next election," he said.

He was referring to an agreement in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance for him to lead the country for around two years, before passing the prime ministership to MP Anwar Ibrahim.

There is regular speculation in Malaysia about when Dr Mahathir will hand over power.

The five-year tenure of PH ends in 2023. The elderly premier told Reuters in a separate interview this week that "I will step down when the time comes ... but we have not fixed a date."

Meanwhile, Tun Mahathir in the interview denied that he plans to reshuffle his Cabinet, although he admitted that it is a huge challenge working with inexperienced ministers.

The premier said that he must continue to work together with his handpicked ministers, some of whom have shown promising potential.

"We have inexperienced people in the government now. I think anyone who is inexperienced will have experienced the same problems that they (new ministers) have," he told Focus Malaysia, in an interview on Langkawi island where he attended a maritime exhibition.

"If I go around discharging and replacing them, it is not going to help.

"I have to try and, well, work with them so that they acquire experience, and believe me, some of them have done quite well," he said.

He admitted that it was difficult to change the opposition attitude of his PH ruling coalition, who wrested power from long-time ruling camp Barisan Nasional (BN) less than a year ago.

"But now they find they are being criticised and they have to take it. They have to accept it," he said. The 10-month-old PH government is often slammed for being slow to fulfill its election campaign pledges and the patchy performance of its Cabinet ministers.

However, the coalition has fulfilled some of its promises such as abolishing the Goods and Services Tax, declaring war on corruption at all levels of governance, appointing non-political and formidable legal figures to head the Election Commission (EC) and prosecuting ex-Premier Najib Razak and his associates on alleged corruption in state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

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