'Give Dr Mahathir the time and space' to govern effectively: Anwar

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

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.”

Catching up: Anwar sharing a light moment with (from left) The Star assistant editor Razak Ahmad and The Star Media Group Chief Content Officer Esther Ng, who are joined by Sinar Harian executive editorial adviser Datuk Abdul Jalil Ali and the tabloid’s executive editor Azmi Tarmizi.Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

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.

Anwar a free man after royal pardon

  • Jailed Malaysian reformist Anwar Ibrahim was granted a full pardon on Wednesday and walked free from a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, capping dramatic changes in the Southeast Asian country since the government was ousted in an election upset last week.
  • In his first press conference since his release at his residence in Segambut on Wednesday (May 16), Anwar said that he was only back as a citizen.
  • "I'll be taking time off to give a series of talks in Harvard, Georgetown and a few Muslim countries," said Anwar.
  • "I've given my assurance to Mahathir and Azizah that I'm here as a concerned citizen, with complete support for them manage the affairs of the country," he said.
  • Anwar also said that as premier, Dr Mahathir had the prerogative to form the Cabinet, but added that the Prime Minister had given him assurance that he would consult party leaders before deciding on its composition.
  • Mr Anwar Ibrahim (centre) speaking to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the palace, where he has been granted an audience with the King at noon.
  • Police directing traffic as Mr Anwar's convoy leaves for the palace.
  • Anwar Ibrahim greeting his supporters after being released from the Cheras Hospital Rehabilitation in Kuala Lumpur on May 16, 2018.
  • A poster of Mr Anwar by one of his supporters outside the hospital.
  • Mr Anwar Ibrahim and wife Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail leaving Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Mr Anwar Ibrahim making his way home after his release from Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Anwar Ibrahim arrives at his house following his release from hospital
  • Mr Anwar Ibrahim arrives home after he was released from Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Journalists and supporters of jailed former opposition leader and current federal opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim arrive at his home after his release from the Cheras Hospital Rehabilitation in Kuala Lumpur on May 16, 2018.