GEORGE TOWN: PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said not being prime minister at this power transition time is a blessing in disguise for him.
Anwar pointed to the heavy responsibility now being shouldered by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“He needs to face old foes, (fight) huge corruption. He also needs to think of how to correct various systems such as the civil service, the judiciary and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
“His job scope is very challenging now. I have escaped this. My job is just to support him.
“The job to make decisions, to choose people for positions, they are all in the hands of the prime minister,” he said in an interview carried live on policy research outfit Invoke’s Facebook page.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) de facto leader, however, did not deny perceptions that he was a prime minister-in-waiting.
Before GE14, Mahathir had reconciled with Anwar, the deputy prime minister he fired and jailed in the late 1990s.
Mahathir formed his party PPBM after he quit Umno, and joined Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan, which went on to defeat Barisan Nasional in the 14th general election.
Once he was appointed prime minister, Mahathir sought and obtained a full royal pardon for Anwar, who was serving a five-year jail term for sodomy.
Mahathir had promised to stay on as prime minister for two years before handing over power to Anwar. In the interim, Anwar’s wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is serving in Mahathir’s Cabinet as deputy prime minister as well as taking charge of the women affairs and welfare portfolio.
Anwar was asked to comment on whether he still harboured suspicions towards Mahathir, and how he planned to move forward.
He said that, initially, it was not easy for him to agree to cooperate with Mahathir. He was, however, satisfied that Mahathir agreed to the reform agenda of PH.
“Why should we be enemies any longer? Personal issues cannot overtake national interests. This combination with Mahathir has helped us to win in this election and give Malaysia a facelift.
“I have told the sultans why I support Mahathir and why this country needs to be strong, stable and firm, especially in this time of power transition.
“If the efforts bear fruit in this transition, it is good for me too. It is also in my interest to see the government handled well,” he said.
The PKR leader said he has also heard of rumours that Mahathir would want to play him out again, but he dismissed such rumours.
“Things have changed. For Tun (Mahathir), at his age, he wants to leave a good legacy, not a negative one.
“So long as I have a good personal relationship with him, we should not entertain negativity,” he said.
Anwar also debunked the perception that Wan Azizah was a mere seat-warmer for him, saying that she does not have anything to prove.
“Look at her service as party president since 1999, when I was in jail and in very dire conditions. She hung on.
“We should look and judge her from her abilities and personality,” he said.
Anwar also said he had no issues if people wanted to criticise Wan Azizah as being a puppet and a seat-warmer, pointing out that his wife was now comfortable and was carrying out her duties.
“I do not feel any stress at all when I see her starting to discuss issues affecting the country, and I am left by the side. That would be an ego disease,” he added.