PETALING JAYA - Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad believes he will one day become unpopular, as being in government would require him to make unpopular decisions.
"Well, I can't always be popular. One day I will become unpopular because when you are in the government, you have to do unpopular things.
"So that (popularity) is not something permanent," he told Hong Kong-based English daily the South China Morning Post (SCMP) in an interview published on Wednesday (June 20).
However, despite his potential risk of becoming unpopular, Dr Mahathir said Malaysians preferred their lives when he was previously in power, compared to the time when former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak led the administration.
Dr Mahathir was previously the prime minister from July 1981 to October 2003.
He became the oldest prime minister in the world, at 93, when he led the then Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan to an historic win at the 14th general election on May 9.
SCMP also asked Dr Mahathir if he would stay on as prime minister beyond two years.
"Well, I don't know whether people will permit me to stay longer," he said.
When pressed if he wanted to prolong his stay as prime minister, Dr Mahathir responded: "If there is some work I can still do, if I am still healthy, I can think and talk".
Before the election, Dr Mahathir said that he would stay as Prime Minister for two years and relinquish the premiership to PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
After the election, however, in an interview with local Malay daily Sinar Harian, he said the two years' decision was not set in stone and was merely a suggestion.
"It (the two years) is a suggestion, but we are not fixed on this. It could be earlier, or even later.
"The priority is to return the nation's wealth and build our economy to become more sustainable," he told the daily.
To read the SCMP interview in full, go here.