PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said he had never admitted mistake in accusing Anwar Ibrahim of moral misconduct when the latter was sacked as his deputy in 1998, disputing a recent claim by Anwar.
“I didn’t tell him that, but other people put words into my mouth because they want me to apologise,” the prime minister said in an interview with Britain’s BBC on the Hardtalk programme.
“But I never made any formal apology to him,” he told host Zeinab Badawi, who read to him excerpts from an interview with Anwar.
Quoting Anwar, Zeinab said: “Mahathir has proven his tenacity, accepted past limitations, apologised and sacrificed his time and energy to raise the dignity of the people and the country.”
To this, Mahathir said it was Anwar’s opinion.
He said the issue of his past accusations against Anwar was never raised when they both cooperated to overthrow Najib Razak, whose Barisan Nasional was defeated by Pakatan Harapan in May.
In 1998, Mahathir sacked Anwar, who was later charged with sodomy and abuse of power.
Anwar was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption in 1999, and nine years’ jail for sodomy a year later. The Federal Court overturned his conviction and freed him in 2004.
The duo met for the first time in 18 years in September 2016, and soon declared their alliance to topple BN.
Mahathir today said he regretted that Anwar had to go to jail but that he was not to blame as it was decided by the courts.
To a question if he felt sorry, Mahathir said:
“I feel sorry for those who have done something and were sentenced to jail.”