Anwar: Dr M won't 'exceed two years' as PM, needs time to govern effectively

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shakes hands with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during a press conference at Yayasan Al Bukhary in Kuala Lumpur January 4, 2019. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shakes hands with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during a press conference at Yayasan Al Bukhary in Kuala Lumpur January 4, 2019. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has reiterated the narrative of a smooth transition process between him and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, saying he expects to be prime minister in not more than two years' time.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Anwar stressed that Dr Mahathir must be accorded enough space to govern effectively during "very difficult and trying times".

"Of course it’s not five years because he’s made it very clear they would not exceed two years,” Anwar said.

The issue of transfer of power has been a contentious one. Although Dr Mahathir has repeatedly stated that he will hand over the PM post to Anwar, no formal time frame has been set.

Some within Pakatan Harapan also feel that Dr Mahathir should be allowed a full term to carry out the coalition's reform pledges.

Anwar said last month that although there was an agreement that he would be the eighth prime minister, it is the people who will ultimately decide on the matter.

The Port Dickson MP also spoke on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), saying that the government "will not compromise" in its discussions with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the bank “must bear responsibility" for its role in the scandal.

He told Bloomberg Television he is unsure whether Malaysia can obtain the US$7.5 billion (RM30.4 billion) it is seeking from Goldman as compensation for the 1MDB scandal.

Goldman has said it was withholding bonuses and could consider taking back part of the salaries of top senior executives pending investigations into its role in the 1MDB fiasco.

Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal has already taken down former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and caused the downfall of the Barisan Nasional government, and Goldman is already struggling to contain the fallout from its role in the looting of billions of ringgit in public funds.

Out of the US$6.5 billion Goldman raised for 1MDB, prosecutors have alleged that US$2.7 billion was stolen by a Malaysian financier and two former Goldman bankers.

“It’s not feasible or tenable to assume that the higher, top personalities in Goldman Sachs” aren’t aware. However rigid the safeguards, if you have crooks running the system they can always navigate,” Anwar said.