Dr M and I share views on cronyism, Anwar says on eve of sacking anniversary

Anwar Ibrahim and Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the Bumiputera congress today. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Anwar Ibrahim said he shared the views of Dr Mahathir Mohamad who today defended himself against charges of cronyism, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the PKR leader’s dramatic sacking on the back of allegations of cronyism and nepotism against the government.

Speaking to reporters after addressing the Congress on the Future of the Bumiputera and Nation which was officiated by Mahathir this morning, Anwar said he was firm in his stance against cronyism, especially in the manner contracts were awarded.

But Anwar said he shares the views of the prime minister, with a slight difference in “emphasis”.

“I don’t think there is a difference in contention here, just a different emphasis, between the cronyism label on those who are successful, and cronyism where those with political connections get contracts,” he said.

Mahathir during his keynote address at the congress today questioned critics of affirmative action policies to help Bumiputera businessmen.

He said those labeled as cronies were actually those who were successful.

“In truth, many get opportunities but don’t succeed. But because they don’t succeed, they are not seen as cronies. From every 100, maybe four or five succeed. They become famous and are labelled as cronies,” Mahathir said.

Anwar said he also shared Mahathir’s criticism of those who abuse the approved permits (APs) to import vehicles.

He said his reconciliation with Mahathir 20 years after their fallout was fated.

“Allah decided that two of us should come together to save Malaysia from abuse of power,” he said.

Anwar Ibrahim giving the closing remarks at the Bumiputera congress today.

Anwar, once the heir-apparent to Mahathir, was sacked on Sept 2, 1998. He was later arrested and charged with abuse of power and sodomy, charges he said were fabricated to end his political career.

The two buried the hatchet in 2016, and agreed to work together under Pakatan Harapan. The coalition has agreed to appoint Anwar as prime minister after Mahathir, who has indicated his stay in office was only for a short period.

‘I’m in talks with ministers’

Anwar said despite not holding any post in the government, he was constantly in talks with Cabinet members.

“The spirit of comradeship is unique, the ministers even have good access to me,” he said.

“Mahathir has given them the green light to consult me if needed.”

Earlier in his speech, Anwar warned PH against corrupt practices, saying the ruling coalition would be subjected to the same scrutiny they once held the Barisan Nasional government to.

This, he said, includes the government’s performance in the Auditor-General’s reports.

“We used the report as a weapon against the government. Now the opposition will attack us if we’re careless,” he said.

He said if there was any truth in allegations against the PH government, he would not defend them.

“I will return to Parliament soon, and if the opposition’s criticisms are accurate and there is corruption or carelessness among the ministers, I will stand with them in criticising.”