KUALA LUMPUR: Winning the general election was supposed to be the hard part, but it turned out to be the easiest part, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Pakatan Harapan chairman said this when he hailed the "people's achievement" in enabling the first change of government in 61 years during a surprise appearance at the Malaysians for Malaysia Merdeka celebration on Friday (Aug 31).
"We thought it (winning Federal Power) was the hard part, but we (now) realise that it's the easy part," Dr Mahathir said of the challenges they faced as government.
He said Pakatan Harapan had limited its own power in Federal government as they crafted their manifesto thinking that they would remain the opposition and would need to hold a Barisan Nasional government in check.
For example, he said, they pledged that the Public Accounts Committee chairman should be from the opposition, and now they had put themselves in a position to be scrutinised.
"Many other things we put in the manifesto thinking we would be opposition, but now we are the government," he added.
"Among the things we put in our promises is to limit the Prime Minister's power, then we discover that we are in power, and we limit the power that we now have," he said.
"We have made these promises, so we have to have ourselves examined and scrutinised by the opposition, which was the government before this," he said.
Nevertheless, Dr Mahathir said there was a sense of relief among the people now that Pakatan Harapan was in power.
"Sometimes, we catch them smiling to themselves," he said.
"They feel there are no longer oppressed; there was fear before," he added.
Dr Mahathir also said he was happy that the National Day parade was once again held in Putrajaya because Putrajaya, with its wide central boulevard, was built for the purpose of holding parades.
"I wish you Selamat Hari Kebangsaan," he said.
Organised by Malaysians for Malaysia, Merdeka celebration was attended by some of Malaysia's most notable activists including transgender activist Nisha Ayub, lawyer Siti Kassim, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir and Ivy Josiah.