SHAH ALAM, Jan 7 — Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad thanked former nemesis Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today, saying he owed the latter a “debt of gratitude” for agreeing to work together despite their past enmity.
Dr Mahathir had sacked Anwar as his deputy in 1998, before going on to vilify the latter for sodomy and corruption up until their recent reconciliation.
Today, the Pakatan Harapan chairman acknowledged that it could not have been “easy” for Anwar and his family to agree to work with him and allow his party into the Opposition pact.
“I am aware how he must have felt. It was not easy for him to accept me. I owe him a debt of gratitude, and I say thank you to him,” Dr Mahathir said today during his speech at the PH convention.
His speech came shortly after he was officially named as PH’s candidate for prime minister if the 14th general election.
However, the selection requires Dr Mahathir to step down and pave way for Anwar to become PM if that pact is able to obtain a pardon for the latter’s second sodomy conviction.
The Prison Department told Malay Mail today that Anwar will be released on June 8, after serving two-thirds of his five-year sentence from his 2014 conviction. The remainder of his prison term will be remitted.
Prior to Anwar’s conviction, Dr Mahathir had also sided with his former deputy’s accuser, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, but last year issued a statement to now describe Anwar as a “political prisoner”.
He had also once been adamant that Anwar must never be allowed to become the prime minister.
Today, Dr Mahathir acknowledged the struggles of Anwar’s family during the latter’s imprisonment.
“They have suffered for 20 years, it is not easy for them,” he said.
However, he rejected claims that he was a “cruel” leader.
“Those are just monikers. But I know I’m not cruel. These voices are the periphery. But they should not stop us from carrying out our main duty,” he said.