KUALA LUMPUR: PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (pic) says the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister holding ministerial portfolios is not a contradiction of Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto.
Part of Promise 12 in the manifesto states that the Prime Minister will not hold any other ministerial posts, especially that of Finance Minister.
“I think that doesn’t go contrary (to the manifesto). To my understanding, the Prime Minister is not a portfolio.
“The Prime Minister manages the country generally, so does the Deputy PM. These are not portfolios,” Anwar said, emphasising that the main thing was that the Prime Minister did not assume the post of Finance Minister as well.
His comment follows yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that he was assuming responsibility for the Education Ministry, while his deputy Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail would take up the Women’s Affairs and Welfare Ministry.
As for his own return to Malaysian politics, Anwar said there was no set time frame.
“I’ve just come out (of prison) yesterday. There’s no opportunity for me to meet with any friends to discuss seriously. I’ve just been engaging the media and attending public functions,” he said in an interview with The Star.
The only meeting he has had so far, he said, was with Dr Mahathir, who is also Pakatan and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman.
After that, Anwar said, he planned to leave for his umrah pilgrimage, and then proceed to Turkey and the United States.
These overseas trips would not be for long, he added.
“Then, in the next few months have a by-election, return as an MP, and continue with the engagements, fellowships and series of lectures I’ve accepted outside (the country),” he added.
“They were joking just now, telling me about Pekan, but I don’t know. I’ve not heard anything about him resign,” Anwar said, referring to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is Pekan MP.
Explaining his decision not to seek an immediate return to politics, Anwar said he did not want to be seen as waiting in the wings to assume the premiership.
“You should give Dr Mahathir a free hand. The team is clear, the agenda is clear and I think they should be given some space.
“I also express my views every time I meet him. He’s taking it very well,” said Anwar.
In the meantime, the main thing he wants to do before getting back into politics – aside from making up for lost time with his family and friends – is to share the Malaysian experience of political transition with other Muslim countries.
He said he wanted to “inspire them to use the ballot box, not extremism, not fanaticism, not dictatorial authoritarian regimes that actually help breed extremism”.
In an interview with Malaysiakini, Anwar said Tun Daim Zainuddin could contribute to Pakatan, but noted unexplained “major excesses” when Daim was Finance Minister.
“He can contribute, but he must be aware. People appreciate that he has joined, but are also concerned that he has been unable to explain some major problems in the past.
“People say there’s no need to bring up old baggage, which is true. But democratic accountability ... must not stop at Najib.
“However, I don’t think it should go to the extent of a vendetta and endless witch hunt,” Anwar said.
He also said there were concerns of “Umno 2.0” creeping into the current administration, but that some commentators were trying to sow seeds of dissension.
Anwar said he had discussed getting advice from Daim with Finance Minister-designate Lim Guan Eng.
“He (Daim) has been able to help in managing the economy, but there are major issues we have to address,” Anwar added.
He also cautioned that people were in a state of euphoria with the change in regime but that would wear off, especially with criticism.
“It is a new government ... after the euphoria and the media starts whacking us ... you have to accept that fact,” he said.