PETALING JAYA • A promise on the leadership transition remains, but a prime minister must command the support of the majority in Parliament, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
"We have promised," he said in an interview with Malaya Post TV on Saturday night. "Even if I wanted to break the promise, I can only be PM if I have the majority support in Parliament.
"But if the majority of the Dewan Rakyat rejected me, I will fall. That's democracy," he said.
"Members of Parliament hold the power to decide. If I don't have the majority support, I can't be the prime minister."
He said this when asked to comment on the country's leadership transition as certain factions in Parliament, including Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), had openly expressed their views that Tun Dr Mahathir should serve the full term instead of handing over power to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim.
Dr Mahathir noted that Parliament could even reject anyone nominated by a party with the highest number of seats.
The issue of power transition was brought to the fore as no formal timeframe has been set for it.
However, the 94-year-old Dr Mahathir has repeatedly said that he would abide by his promise to hand over the premiership to Datuk Seri Anwar.
Last February, Mr Anwar said he expected to be prime minister in no more than two years' time, adding that Dr Mahathir must be given enough space to govern effectively during "very difficult and trying times".
Prior to the 2018 general election, leaders from Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and its allies under the Pakatan Harapan coalition - namely PKR, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) - agreed in a consensus that Mr Anwar would be the eighth prime minister, replacing Dr Mahathir, should the coalition win.
MPS' SUPPORT NEEDED
Even if I wanted to break the promise, I can only be PM if I have the majority support in Parliament... But if the majority of the Dewan Rakyat rejected me, I will fall. That's democracy.
PRIME MINISTER MAHATHIR MOHAMAD, referring to his pledge to hand over power to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.
Dr Mahathir noted that the decision-making power on the premiership was in the hands of MPs.
He also said politicians treat issues faced by the rakyat seriously.
"If they (politicians) are only interested in positions and do not care about the people's problem, they won't last.
"If we fail to resolve the woes faced by the majority, the people will reject us (in the next general election)," he said.
Dr Mahathir also revealed that the DAP was not happy that he attended Gerakan's Chinese New Year open house.
Gerakan was formerly a party in Barisan Nasional before it opted out of the former government coalition and become an independent party two months after the watershed May 2018 general election.
"They are my friends. It is a social event, not a political event. I can't ditch my friends because of political differences," Dr Mahathir said.
He also denied that he was trying to create a new political alliance.
"My meetings with political rivals were misconstrued as attempts to forge a new alliance," he said.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK