KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 ― Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a more “acceptable” leader than Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said.
In an interview with the New Straits Times, Dr Mahathir said despite his past criticism and subsequent fallout with his former deputy prime minister, working with Anwar today is far better than allowing Najib to continue becoming the country's prime minister.
“Well, that was before. Yes, I did say that. But between Najib and Anwar, I think Najib is a worse leader than Anwar. The worst leader.”
“I think that to have Anwar replace a person like Najib is more acceptable than to have Najib carry on, so I decided that I would work with Anwar, whatever I may have said about him before, whatever he has said against me before.
“I thought that our working together was far more important, in order to displace Najib, than for us to quarrel because I knew that if we didn’t work together, Najib would be the next prime minister and that would be disastrous for the country,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also said he trusts in Anwar's capability of leading the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition due to his history of leading the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat.
“I think he has been leading a considerable part of Pakatan Harapan. In fact, he was the architect of Pakatan Rakyat. Of course, Pakatan Rakyat failed because they were not that cohesive. But after we came together, we were able to work much more closely.
“The fact remains that he was from Umno, and Umno, of course, was not very liked by the Opposition. He left Umno and he was able to bring DAP, PAS even, and his party together, so he has leadership quality,” he said.
When asked on whether the PH coalition would break apart when he resigns as PM, Dr Mahathir said he is confident in Deputy Prime Minister's Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to lead the Cabinet.
“Well, this is. a difficult question to answer because I have to sum up whatever it is that they (have) argued (about) and declare that this is the decision that we are making. I cannot sum up unless, of course, they agree with my views and these are sometimes very contrary views.
“So far, I have been able to lead. We don’t see any substitute yet at the moment, but there have been occasions when I left the Cabinet and Wan Azizah was leading and she was able to conduct the meeting, at least for the short period I was away. There was once when l was out of the country, she conducted the meeting.
“So, in a sense, the structure is expected. Now, who fills in after me, or after Wan Azizah, is something else. Of course, what we say is that Anwar will take over. Anwar has been a deputy prime minister before. He ought to know how to keep the party together,” he said.