PETALING JAYA: Anwar Ibrahim has compared Dr Mahathir Mohamad to US President Donald Trump, saying that the old Mahathir he knew was the Trump of his time.
In a 23-minute video interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, released yesterday, Anwar said the Mahathir he knew in the 1980s is not the same Mahathir today.
He recalled the day Mahathir came to see him, after 18 years of a bitter division, at a court hearing in 2016. Anwar said his supporters were angry that Mahathir had come and were suspicious of Mahathir’s intentions.
“He was not the Mahathir I knew. He said: ‘I made a mistake. Give me a chance to make amends.’ That’s not Mahathir.
”Mahathir then used to make no mistakes. He used to be the Trump of these days.”
Anwar urged Malaysians to give the “new” Mahathir a chance over the next two years.
“He has shifted his views on issues such as judicial independence, media freedom and economic policies for sure.”
Anwar was Mahathir’s former deputy until he was sacked in 1998, which drove him into opposition with his party PKR, the Pakatan Rakyat coalition and the current Pakatan Harapan, with Mahathir as chairman.
He was jailed in 2015 for sodomy but was granted a pardon by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V soon after Pakatan Harapan took power and formed the federal government last month.
PH component parties have agreed that Mahathir will be the prime minister and Anwar would succeed Mahathir after being freed.
Anwar said he and his family suffered immensely after his sacking 20 years ago.
“It was a painful and traumatic period, but time’s a healer.
“Then Mahathir came to see us and said he was prepared for a change. He said it was a mistake to sack Anwar Ibrahim,” he said.
Anwar said his daughter, Nurul Izzah, resisted Mahathir when they met each other at the 2016 court hearing.
“She walked into the witness room 10 minutes after my meeting with Mahathir. She walked across the room and did not look or greet him. I was blinking at her, and ‘appealing’ to her to greet this man.”
He added Izzah nodded at Mahathir, sat across from him and asked for Mahathir’s reasons for wanting to work with the opposition on reforms.
“In all honesty, it was a difficult and painful decision,” he said, which came while he was in solitary confinement in prison. He added that the “painful” decision to work with Mahathir turned out to be the right one when PH won the 14th general election.
In the interview, Anwar said his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, may quit her position as deputy PM if he becomes PM. However, Nurul Izzah would remain MP but would not participate in the administration.
Anwar said his 10 years in prison had made him “older, wiser, more patient and philosophical”.
“I have become a little more learned as I have covered thousands of books during that period.”
He said he had become more appreciative of judicial independence and how court sentences can affect a person’s life.
“A 14-year-old can languish in prison for six months while waiting for a trial date while leaders who squander millions are safe and promoted. It is a mockery of the system.
“I have learnt a lot in life.”