KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim did not have the support of the Malay community as they viewed him as a liberal, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad asserted.
The former prime minister told Sinar Harian that this has been the case since the time Anwar was still an Umno leader, saying the Malays feared liberalism would lead to an erosion of their rights and privileges.
“If we look back, when he left Umno while I was still the prime minister, he tried to form a party to oppose me.
“Before that, Ku Li also left the party to form Semangat 46. But that was a Malay party,” Dr Mahathir said, referring to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
“When Anwar left, he formed a liberal party. He wanted the support of DAP so he invited DAP in, invited PAS in. His philosophy is liberal.”
Dr Mahathir did not elaborate on the incongruity of lumping both DAP and PAS as liberals.
He went on to disclose his personal views about Anwar, who had been his anointed successor while the former was still the prime minister.
The problematic power transition between the two was a major element in the political crisis that eventually brought down the Pakatan Harapan administration and allowed Perikatan Nasional to stroll into power.
“I have issues with Anwar. I admit it. When I was still the Umno president, Anwar was dropped and sentenced to imprisonment.
“When we wanted to fight and bring down Najib, I thought between Najib and Anwar, Najib was the more dangerous.
“So I was willing to refer back to Anwar; I was even willing to work with DAP. If not, we would not have defeated Barisan Nasional,” he said in the interview.
These revelations will cast added doubt on Dr Mahathir’s previous insistence that he had been prepared to step aside for Anwar after Malaysia was done hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November.
Dr Mahathir already revealed previously that he was baited into considering a new coalition with what were then Opposition parties after his political secretary convinced him that Anwar would demand to be made the deputy prime minister.
He also appeared to blame Anwar for letting Perikatan Nasional take over the federal government, saying the latter was “obsessed” with becoming the PM, which led PH to withdraw support for Dr Mahathir at a crucial point in the crisis.
Dr Mahathir resigned unexpectedly in February to trigger a political crisis that brought down the PH administration and culminated in Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s appointment as the new PM heading the new Perikatan Nasional government.