KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the leader that Malaysia needs now amid challenging times for the nation, PKR’s prime minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has said.
Anwar also gave credit to Dr Mahathir over the latter’s achievements while taking on the difficult task of helming the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government over the past four months.
“And I must say credit given to him, that he’s doing what he promised prior to the elections and he’s doing really well.
“It requires a very strong, firm leader at this more contentious period. I’ve said many times that probably I wouldn’t envy him,” he said in an interview with newswire Bloomberg.
Anwar also acknowledged that Dr Mahathir would be a more suitable prime minister now for Malaysia, as compared to himself.
“Given the present scenario, he would be a better leader than me, given these more contentious, tough times which require tough measures.
“I’m normally criticised for being a bit too soft and closet utilitarian,” he added.
In the same interview, Anwar described his ties with Dr Mahathir as “excellent” and indicated that he has chosen to focus on the country instead of their personal bitter past.
“I should say excellent, we used to have excellent relationship, unprecedented in terms of working together.
“Then, of course, the most contentious bitter struggle Malaysians have not seen for a long time. Now we’ve accepted the fact that the country must be saved. The country takes precedence,” he said.
Anwar was in the past deputy prime minister and finance minister during Dr Mahathir’s first term as prime minister, but was sacked over sodomy allegations.
Dr Mahathir unexpectedly joined forces with the Anwar-led federal Opposition PH before the 14th general election, where the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition suffered a shock defeat and lost federal power for the first time.
As for his current role in relation to the Malaysian government, Anwar told Bloomberg that he would engage with its leaders as the PKR party that he leads won the highest number of parliamentary seats compared to other PH component parties.
“Therefore, it is my duty to discuss with the prime minister, with the ministers in government which I have been doing regularly, although I opt to tell them more than I used to do after sitting down in solitary confinement for so many years.
“I probably have to utilise the moment to proceed with the struggles, new acquaintances and meeting old friends,” he said.
PKR today announced that its Port Dickson MP would vacate his seat, a move seen as triggering a by-election for Anwar to contest and ultimately, pave the way for him to take over from Dr Mahathir.
Despite the by-election in just slightly over four months of PH in power, Anwar had previously indicated that he would not be in a hurry to replace Dr Mahathir.
A timeframe of around two years had been floated as the period that Dr Mahathir would helm Malaysia.