PUTRAJAYA: Recognising that his promise to make way for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after two years is a cornerstone of the Pakatan Harapan alliance, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he will keep his word and will only be a temporary PM.
This is despite calls from within Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia that he keeps the post until the next general election.
“There is a plea for this old PM to continue (the full tenure). When we were in the opposition and wanted to get rid of the kleptocrats, we knew we could not do it with only the Malay votes. Without the other parties (in Pakatan), we would not succeed.
“We only won because we had a coalition and to have this coalition, we discussed with our partners (DAP, PKR and Amanah). One of the conditions then was that the PM, who was their enemy, can only be temporary. At that point of time, the main thing was to get rid of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“I had to accept the condition to get rid of Najib and we could not do anything as long as Najib was in power. That is why sometimes we hugged our sworn enemies and sat together. It was weird to see me with my old enemies but because we were willing to accept that small condition (that I be the temporary PM), we won. I did not think we would win,” said Dr Mahathir.
He said this in his winding-up speech at the annual general meeting of Bersatu at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre yesterday.
During the AGM which ended yesterday, some delegates called upon Dr Mahathir to stay until the next GE.
Prior to GE14, the Pakatan component parties agreed that if the coalition won, he would be the PM for two years before handing over the reins to Anwar, who is now PKR president.
“That sacrifice that we made then (to accept that condition) bore fruit. In a struggle, we have give and take. If we are stubborn and insist, we will be destroyed and we will not get what we want,” said Dr Mahathir, likening the situation to countries in the Middle East that are constantly at war because of their refusal to compromise.
He also said in his speech that he was at times “famous” for not knowing how to choose the right people for government roles. He added that he had been criticised for naming Tan Sri Musa Hitam (now Tun) as deputy prime minister in the 1980s and for appointing certain ministers from Bersatu.
In a press conference later, when asked whether he would make a mistake in his choice of a successor again, Dr Mahathir said: “I will tell you my answer two years later.”
To questions of when he would step down, he said: “I also have to take care of my health. I have had dinner with Anwar and we did not talk about it. He seemed comfortable that I will pass the baton to him.”
About 2,000 delegates and observers nationwide participated in the three-day AGM.