KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — It would be a “foolish” move for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to hand over the reins to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim immediately after the latter’s release from prison, according to Tun Daim Zainuddin.
Daim, who heads the newly-appointed Team of Eminent Persons to advise the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government on its policies, told Straits Times that a more pragmatic leadership transition would only be “mid-term”.
“The transition will be mid-term. If you break your promise to the people, they are not going to trust you anymore. It will be foolish for anybody to change [prime ministers now],” he was quoted saying in a recent interview.
According to the Singapore daily, the timeline for a leadership change will most likely happen in 2020 as Dr Mahathir had repeatedly said he needs at least two years to resolve the problems left behind by Najib's administration.
Daim also told the ST that he had met Anwar recently to convey the message that “you all tried how many elections and failed. Whether you like it or not, Mahathir succeeded”.
Dr Mahathir returned to office as the seventh prime minister 15 years after retiring as the fourth PM in 2003.
He had previously led the government for 22 long years from 1981.
At 92, soon to turn 93 in July, Dr Mahathir is the world’s oldest democratically elected world leader.
Anwar is still serving a five-year sentence after being convicted of sodomising a former male aide and is currently warded at the Cheras Rehabilitation Centre here for treatment of a bad back.
The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V had last week indicated he is willing to grant a royal pardon to Anwar, and the latter was supposed to be released today.
But the Pardons Board has shifted its meeting to tomorrow, and Anwar’s release, as such, will be delayed.