Commentary Politics

Mahathir to keep promise but Anwar nowhere nearer

Mahathir (left) and Anwar -- Two years, three years? But most likely Mahathir will stay the course.

Written by Aziz Hassan

November 8, 2019.

Recollections & Reflections

WHENEVER the issue of succession was mentioned to him, the man who wants to be prime minister would often blame it on the press for keeping the issue alive, especially since there appeared to be no dispute within the ruling Pakatan Harapan as to who would eventually take over from the 94-year-old Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

The problem though is this: While the press, both Malaysian and foreign, doesn’t appear to want to push this into the background until the time comes for the actual transfer of power,  Mahathir always has something to say when asked about it, although he does repeat the promise that he will indeed hand over to Anwar Ibrahim, his one-time deputy in the government and the party who was sacked in 1998.

When interviewed in Bangkok recently by two foreign newspapers, Mahathir again readily answered questions about the handover, keeping the topic alive and kicking but at the same time adopting an open-ended position as to whether Anwar will eventually succeed him.

If Anwar a few months ago was thinking of being PM sometime later next year, it now looks that he will have to wait a bit longer and hope that it will take place.

Again while stating that he will keep his promise and that Anwar will succeed him as decided by the Pakatan presidential council, you only have to read Mahathir’s interviews very carefully to realise that he is not thinking of retiring anytime soon and that if and when the transition does happen, it will be entirely on his call alone.

When he’ll quit is a decision only Mahathir will make and who will argue with him?

In Bangkok he again talked about problems facing Malaysia and went on an ego trip to say that because of his experience maybe he is the only person capable of turning things around in Malaysia – and with no time-frame set for this. It would be wise for Anwar and everyone else to read that to mean that Mahathir will simply serve a full term because the economic and fiscal problems he referred to are issues that cannot be expected to straighten up in one or two years, not when the global economy is down and the ringgit is sliding further and further.

As a recent opinion in the Sydney Morning Herald, one of the two newspapers that interviewed him in Bangkok, this is sophistry indeed from Mahathir, who by now is well-known for confirming something today only to later find a reason or two to justify why he has to change course.

What this all means is that eventually it will come to this: Mahathir serves his full term or quits close to the end of it, by which time the succession may  no longer be his to decide, certainly not if Pakatan loses control of the government, which will leave everyone in Pakatan with no say whatsoever on who becomes Malaysia’s next PM. Which means it’s not going to be Anwar after all.

But here are some excerpts from the interviews that can help you put two and two together:

“I cannot say whether it is two years or three years, but I will certainly step down as I promised. No, there was no actual date or time mentioned,” he said, adding that the actual time he will step down depends on “the problems that we face”.

The above is perhaps Mahathir’s best insurance coverage should he decide that he needs to stay on.

You can read the two interviews here:

There was also talk a couple of months ago that the Anwar camp heard that Mahathir had been touching base often with a former aide whose job during the reign of PM4 from 1981 to 2003 was mainly underground – covert. And this was something Anwar’s side didn’t find comforting, whatever the public face.

Who cares where fatty boy Low is so long as we are able to bring him back to face justice

Honestly Malaysians don’t give a hoot where the infamous fatty boy from Penang, a certain Jho Low, is hiding overseas so long as our cops can get him back to stand trial for the 1MDB case.

National police chief Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador says he knows where Low is hiding like a chicken but would not tell us but what peeves him is the non-cooperation shown by the country said to be shielding Low.

Recently Hamid said Low was definitely not in Cyprus, the island state that has given him a passport but now may withdraw it.

Then Hamid said Low was trying to buy a property in Cyprus, where wealthy foreigners are given passports after investing some millions of dollars in real estate, but by using another person’s name. Rather contradictory this.

This doesn’t make much sense because of the recent statement from Cyprus about a rethink of the “passport for sale” policy. Even if the policy is retained, using another person to buy real estate there will not entitle Low to a passport.

But just in case Hamid is wondering why the country said to be harbouring Low doesn’t look cooperative when dealing with Malaysia’s request, the police chief would do well to look at India’s request vis-à-vis Muslim preacher Zakir Naik. While Malaysia has its reasons for not extraditing Zakir, Low’s host country surely has its own reasons too.



About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.