PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his one-time nemesis turned ally Anwar Ibrahim makes for a better leader compared to Najib Razak despite his past reservations about the PKR president.
In an exclusive interview with New Straits Times, Mahathir said it was more acceptable for Anwar to replace “a person like Najib” than to allow the former prime minister to continue administering the country.
This is why he chose to work with Anwar despite what they have said about each other in the past, the prime minister said.
“Between Najib and Anwar, I think Najib is a worse leader than Anwar.
“I thought that our working together was far more important, in order to displace Najib, than for us to quarrel because I knew if we didn’t work together, Najib would be the next prime minister and that would be disastrous for the country,” the English daily quoted him as saying.
He was asked to respond to the times he said Anwar – who is poised to succeed him – was not fit to be a leader.
Mahathir and Anwar have had an acrimonious relationship over two decades sparked when Mahathir, during his first stint as prime minister, sacked Anwar as his deputy in 1998.
A year later, Anwar – who was at one time Mahathir’s protege – was convicted of corruption and sodomy.
However, they buried the hatchet in 2016 and worked together to bring down the Barisan Nasional in the May 9 polls.
Asked if Anwar is able to keep Pakatan Harapan together, Mahathir said Anwar has been leading a considerable part of the ruling coalition.
“In fact, he was the architect of Pakatan Rakyat. Of course, Pakatan Rakyat failed because they were not that cohesive. But after we came together, we were able to work much more closely.”