KUALA LUMPUR - Give Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad time and space to govern effectively and steer the country back on track, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The PKR leader said this was the reason he refused to specify a time frame for him to succeed Dr Mahathir as the next prime minister.
Anwar said that while the unprecedented democratic transition of federal power in Malaysia had yet to be fully tested, it would remain strong so long as there was unity.
“Some people see this transition as fragile, but I don’t,” he said.
“The fragility will come about only if there are major battles waged between me and Mahathir, but I have made it very clear. Number one, he is the Prime Minister, and number two, I refuse to give a time frame,” Anwar said in an interview with The Star and Sinar Harian.
Dr Mahathir had initially said that he would need about two years to lead the country in order to solve the problems faced by the country.
However in an interview with Sinar Harian that was published on Saturday, Dr Mahathir said his term as Prime Minister could be extended beyond the agreed two years.
“It (two years) is a suggestion, but we are not fixed on this. It could be earlier or even later,” Sinar Harian had quoted Dr Mahathir as saying.
Anwar was not asked about Dr Mahathir’s comments on the possibility that he would stay on as Prime Minister for more than two years.
But he pointed out that Dr Mahathir had a major responsibility to dismantle the corrupt institutions, dismiss corrupt officials and to regain public confidence.
“Let’s give him the support which is needed in this period,” said Anwar, adding that giving Dr Mahathir a time frame to step down could put him in a weaker position.
“I must give him the latitude and space to govern effectively and therefore, I know my role.
“That’s why I take a minimal role. Some people in Keadilan (PKR) are now really upset with the recent developments but I said: ‘Look, give him the space, let him run the show’.”
Denying allegations that he worked independently and did not consult Dr Mahathir, Anwar said even his June 4 meeting with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over the Attorney General’s appointment was held with the Prime Minister’s blessing.
“I mentioned to the PM that there is a necessity, and he said ‘proceed’.
“The PM allows me to do that; it’s because I presented the PM’s case to support his choice,” said Anwar.
He said his efforts to engage the Malay Rulers was to complement Dr Mahathir, who had to focus on so many other issues.
Asked whether he felt a cruel sense of irony that Dr Mahathir – who sacked him in 1998 and then imprisoned him on charges of sodomy and abuse of power – was now being credited as the man who was saving the country, Anwar replied: “If I had not forgiven him, I would not have endorsed him in Pakatan Harapan.”
Anwar said he was initially not enthusiastic about working with Dr Mahathir, but realised the need to move on.
“He (Dr Mahathir) has said that it was a mistake, that he should not have sacked Anwar, and that Anwar should be the next Prime Minister. That’s enough for me.”
Dr Mahathir, noted Anwar, had been tested, worked hard and was clearly determined to save the country and get it back on track.
“I have no reason to doubt his sincerity. I think he is playing a great role in the country and I tell people there is hikmah (wisdom) in this as God’s divine plan.”
The Star team was led by Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.