KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad insisted today that he had no hands in imprisoning nemesis-turned-ally Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in 1999 for sodomy and corruption, which the latter has claimed to be politically-motivated.
The prime minister said the sentence against now incoming PKR president Anwar was decided by the judiciary, and not him.
“He was imprisoned by the court, not by me. I didn’t have the power to imprison him.
“I could detained him, but I prefer going to the court. It took nine months for the court to decide and after I stepped down, he was released,” he said during the “The Future of Democracy in Asia” held in Chatham House, London.
During the question-and-answer session, Dr Mahathir was asked on how he will rebuild the relationship with Anwar, particularly after the latter had served in jail under his administration.
In Dr Mahathir’s first stint as prime minister from 1981 to 2003, his then deputy Anwar was sacked in 1998. The latter then faced corruption and sodomy charges, which resulted in jail time until the convictions were eventually overturned.
Dr Mahathir said after Anwar was released then, a different administration decided to take the latter to the court, again, for the same crime.
“He went to the jail under another government, not by me,” he added, referring to Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Dr Mahathir said he could accept working with Anwar for the sake of defeating Najib.
“So, at the moment, I’m working well with Anwar. Today, he’s contesting to become MP. In two or three years’ time, when I’m due to retire, I’ll give the premiership to him.
“They said I’m an interim PM, we didn’t actually agree on time, but many thought it would be about two years, that would be sufficient,” he added.