Not much time left, that's why I'm in a hurry: Mahathir, 93

No Cabinet reshuffle despite huge challenge working with inexperienced ministers, he says

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said 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 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 yesterday.

Tun Dr Mahathir, 93, 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.

ALWAYS IN A HURRY

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 Abdullah Badawi) but I am lucky in the sense that I am not only older, but still able to function.

MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER MAHATHIR MOHAMAD, on using his limited time as the country's interim leader to accomplish what he feels he must.

He was referring to an agreement in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition for him to lead the country for around two years, before passing the prime ministership to Member of Parliament 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.

Dr Mahathir told Reuters in a separate interview last week that he "will step down when the time comes ... but we have not fixed a date".

Supporters of Datuk Seri Anwar call him the "prime minister in waiting" and want him to take over from Dr Mahathir two years after PH won the elections in May last year, which they say was the agreed date.

Meanwhile, Dr 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.

He added that he must continue to work together with his handpicked ministers, some of whom have shown promise.

"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, which wrested power from long-time ruling camp Barisan Nasional 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 fulfil 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 and prosecuting former premier Najib and his associates over alleged corruption in state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, also known as 1MDB.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 31, 2019, with the headline 'Not much time left, that's why I'm in a hurry: Mahathir, 93'. Print Edition | Subscribe