‘I am an interim PM’: Dr M says may stay on for three years before Anwar takes over

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad greets Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before special thanksgiving prayers and iftar in Putrajaya May 9, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad greets Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before special thanksgiving prayers and iftar in Putrajaya May 9, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today he plans to step down as prime minister once he has fixed the country’s problems — and that this may take two to three years.

“We will make most of the corrections within a period of two years, and after that, I think the others will have fewer problems to face,” Singapore’s Straits Times quoted the prime minister as saying during a group interview with the foreign press today.

When asked to clarify the timeframe in which he will remain as prime minister before stepping down, Dr Mahathir said: “I don’t know whether it is three years or two years, but I am an interim prime minister.”

Dr Mahathir has yet to detail when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will take over but has consistently downplayed concerns over a succession plan.

The transition issue has been a contentious one. Although Dr Mahathir has repeatedly stated that he will hand over the prime minister’s post to Anwar, no formal timeframe has been set.

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

In addition, PH secretariat chief Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah had said in January that the length of Dr Mahathir’s term has never been discussed at the pact’s presidential council’s meetings.

In February, Anwar reiterated the narrative of a smooth transition process, saying he expects to be prime minister in not more than two years’ time, but stressed that Dr Mahathir must be accorded enough space to govern effectively during “very difficult and trying times”.

Amid a factional tussle in Anwar’s party PKR, Economic Affairs Minister and party deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali was also forced to deny rumours that he will be made the deputy prime minister during the Ramadan fasting month period.

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