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KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad “is clearly a bitter man” who still wants to dictate to Malaysia despite his waning influence in the country and within Umno, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has said.
Anwar alleged that Dr Mahathir still wields a “small influence” which could be sustained with money pumped in by allies such as Tun Daim Zainuddin, but claimed the retired politician’s influence was not substantial.
“He has [a] small influence. Combined with former finance minister Tun Daim and others who are billionaires, they can fund a lot of civil society operations and can get a lot of people to attend activities.
But I don’t believe they wield a lot of influence, even within the ruling party,” the leader of the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) told Thailand’s newspaper The Nation in an interview published today.
As proof, Anwar cited the former prime minister’s failure to get votes to become a party delegate, adding that his son Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir had lost in last year’s race to become a party vice-president.
A former protege of Dr Mahathir who fell out of favour in 1998 over allegations of sodomy, Anwar admitted to being “bitter” while in jail for eight years until his acquittal later, but insisted that he is a “forward-looking person” who has to “move on”.
Anwar claimed, however, that Dr Mahathir was still full of bitterness and hatred against him.
“Unfortunately, he still has this mindset of the past. His bitterness is clear. I don’t think I want to be like that. You have to overcome not only fear but also anger. If your intention is to be in power like Mahathir, full of hatred and venom, I don’t think you would have time to lead the country,” he said, commenting on The Nation’s observation that Dr Mahathir still harbours grudges against Anwar.
Anwar likened the 88-year-old leader to a retired dictator who cannot withstand opposing views.
“Things like these are still eating into him. I feel sorry for him. He should have peace and tranquility and move [on], be a statesman,” he added.
Reflecting on Dr Mahathir’s rule of over two decades, Anwar said the former Umno president’s legacy was mixed, but also praised his predecessor for his strengths including “hard work” and “vision”.
“Mahathir has done something positive for the country too but has destroyed institutions in the process — the media, the judiciary, the corruption,” the former finance minister said.
Anwar, now 67, also indicated that he was not indispensable to the future of his party and the federal opposition pact.
“Political leaders tend to think they are invincible and irreplaceable. But you can be successful only when you are able to give exposure and train new leaders,” he said.