Respect Mahathir's mandate to govern, Anwar urges royals

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim (above) said that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s position is very clear, and he is bound by the Constitution. PHOTO: CHINA PRESS

PERMATANG PAUH (Penang) • Senior statesman Anwar Ibrahim has given his views on Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's ongoing war of words with the Johor royal family.

Datuk Seri Anwar, who is prime minister-in-waiting and president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), said on Monday that Malaysia's royal houses should respect the electorate's mandate to Pakatan Harapan and Tun Dr Mahathir to govern the country.

"It is our duty to advise all, including royal households, to respect the people's mandate and the fact that the PM and the government have the mandate to govern," Mr Anwar was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight.

Mr Anwar said the Prime Minister's position is very clear, and he is bound by the Constitution.

"There can be views and criticism, but if you do it, there will be a response. You invite further criticism," he told reporters.

His comments came as Dr Mahathir and Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Idris Ibrahim continue to bicker over the powers of the constitutional monarchy to interfere in political matters.

On Sunday, Dr Mahathir said that only the people could remove him from office, after the Crown Prince was filmed saying in a video that the Prime Minister should be changed.

"He thinks he is someone big, but he is just a small fry. If he thinks he's big, go and vote and bring me down," Dr Mahathir had said.

Dr Mahathir, 93, and the Johor royal family have had tense relations that go back decades, from Dr Mahathir's first stint as prime minister from 1981 to 2003.

They clashed again last month over Putrajaya's planned move to accede to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and over who had the final say in appointing Johor's new menteri besar to head the state government.

The government later decided to withdraw from ratifying the Rome Statute of the ICC following claims, led by the Johor Crown Prince, that acceding to the convention was unconstitutional.

Separately, Dr Mahathir on Monday said he would try not to allow Malaysia to flounder and fall, to lose dignity and sense of purpose, for as long as he lives.

"For as long as I live, I will try not to allow this nation of ours to flounder and fall, to lose dignity and sense of purpose. We have prevailed in the past and we will hopefully prevail now and in the future," he said, according to news agency Bernama.

The Prime Minister was giving a speech after receiving an award at the 20th Asian Association of Management Organisations triennial gala dinner and awards night.

He also stressed the need to find common ground and purposes to unite the country.

"Since I was the Prime Minister in the first round, I was frequently asked what were my secrets for being able to manage a nation which is so diverse that almost each segment has a different set of demands and priorities.

"There are no secrets other than the most basic and logical concepts when we are dealing with a diverse group of people. Once we established the common grounds and purposes, we can build on them."

A recent survey by independent pollster Merdeka Centre showed Dr Mahathir's approval ratings have fallen to 46 per cent from 71 per cent last August, while the positive ratings for his one-year-old Pakatan Harapan government stood at only 39 per cent.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2019, with the headline Respect Mahathir's mandate to govern, Anwar urges royals. Subscribe