KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today insisted he was never against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to succeed him as prime minister despite never coming through on that promise.
He claimed that the process ran into issues when Anwar began pushing for the transition to take place earlier than what they had agreed on.
“No, I am not against him but he wanted me to resign before I finished my work. I would have stepped down,” he said during a live interview on BFM Radio this morning.
“I told him, I will step down, in fact, I told him just give me six months because I have got work to do.
“All my work that is meant to develop this country, solve many problems, political educational ones and all that are now thrown out because I am no longer the prime minister,” he said.
Dr Mahathir then agreed that Anwar could still become the prime minister, but explained the influence he has over such eventualities has diminished.
“Yes, he will be prime minister, but there is one thing that you have to accept, that he gets the majority support.
“I cannot determine, I cannot just say, you become prime minister, you know. You have to get the support of the majority of the Members of Parliament,” he said.
Dr Mahathir, who now heads Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, then denied being the main advocate of the notion pitting former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal as a better prime minister candidate ahead of Anwar.
“Well this is the feeling of (Lim) Guan Eng, of DAP,” he said referring to the DAP secretary-general.
Elaborating further, Dr Mahathir was adamant that the support he enjoys among the Malays remains an important factor to anyone choosing to cooperate with him or against him, insisting Pakatan Harapan would not have won the 2018 General Election without his pulling power.
When asked to explain why he sees himself as such an icon among the Malays, Dr Mahathir said this was due to Anwar’s dwindling support from the country’s main and largest race group.
“They don't think he is pro-Malay, because he brainwashed a lot of people,” he said.
Dr Mahathir claimed the brainwashing happened when Anwar defected from Umno in the late 1990s, where he then went on to form PKR, a multiracial party, which was supposedly the beginning of the end of Malay support for Anwar.
Mahathir said Anwar decided to form a multiracial party due to his shrinking support base from the Malays.
“He thought he could get Chinese and Indian support by forming a multiracial party, and then he started saying that Malays are racist, that Umno is racist.
“And this of course doesn't make him popular with the Malays,” Dr Mahathir added.