BANGI • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will play a vital role as a statesman even after a change of leadership, says Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim.
"Even if I take over the leadership, Dr Mahathir will still play a role as a statesman who has contributed a lot to the country. Therefore, I do not see any issue in the matter," he told reporters at the National Youth Council 2019 yesterday.
He was asked to comment on the first anniversary of his release from prison on May 16.
Datuk Seri Anwar was released after the Pakatan Harapan coalition swept to power in a shock election victory on May 9 last year, and was pardoned by the Malaysian King.
The four parties under then opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan had agreed prior to last May's general election to make Dr Mahathir premier for two years should it win power, before handing over the reins to Mr Anwar. But there was no date fixed on the transfer.
The succession plan has sometimes been thrown into doubt amid indications that Dr Mahathir, 93, intends to stay beyond two years.
Mr Anwar said he welcomed Dr Mahathir's commitment to and explanation of the succession plan but refused to give any details.
"I welcome it, and regarding the dates and others, let it be discussed between me and him in a good manner," Mr Anwar, 71, said.
"I have no problem at all as Dr Mahathir has a role and must be given space."
Asked how he felt after one year since his release, Mr Anwar, who is also Port Dickson MP, said: "Oh, it has been a year! I am grateful for the release and a year has passed by.
"I am using my time to meet everyone at all stages from the district to those overseas and even meet my old friends and grassroots leaders, activists and non-governmental organisations."
On a separate matter, he welcomed Dr Mahathir's suggestion that all federal lawmakers declare their assets and those of their families to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
"The proposal must be accepted by the government, as the government has the responsibility to be transparent, and the opposition also raised it before.
"We must give our full support," said Mr Anwar.
When asked about the suggestion to allow Cabinet ministers and politicians with government posts to campaign in by-elections during working hours, Mr Anwar said there should be a set procedure deemed to be fair to ministers.
"If you really open it totally, the ministers can virtually spend all the time campaigning, which is also bad.
"If they want to do that, they should take leave. However, if they do it as part of a programme, then probably it is acceptable. We need to discuss with the Election Commission and all the relevant stakeholders," he added.
Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 in a statement yesterday urged the Election Commission to restrict election campaigning by ministers, even though Dr Mahathir called for a relaxation of such guidelines.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK