PETALING JAYA: Political analysts warn that the war of words between Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s supporters and those aligned with his designated successor, Anwar Ibrahim, will likely increase following a series of public exchanges between the two sides.
Azmi Hassan from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia also said the recent bickering could signal a power struggle between the two leaders.
They were commenting on recent remarks by Mahathir’s political secretary Mohd Zahid Md Arip who, in a thinly veiled message to Anwar, asked the PKR president to rein in his supporters whom he said had been pressuring the prime minister to make way for him.
Zahid, whose remark was recorded in a video uploaded to YouTube, said this when asked to comment on the claim by PKR’s Johari Abdul that all of Kedah’s problems would be resolved once Anwar takes over as prime minister.
The Sungai Petani MP also said that the state’s problems would be solved within the next four to five months.
Kedah is the home state of Mahathir, whose son Mukhriz Mahathir is the menteri besar there.
Under an agreement struck by Pakatan Harapan before the general election last year, Mahathir will hand over power to Anwar after an unspecified period of time.
But Azmi said it was obvious that the handover process “is slipping away from Anwar”.
“Both camps seem to be spilling the beans in the open,” he said, adding that Johari’s remarks demonstrate the seriousness of the issue.
“It was basically a direct rebuke of Mukhriz’s perceived ineptness in administering the state,” he said. “This is a direct rebuke of Mahathir and PPBM.”
He also warned that such disputes could affect public confidence in the government, which is under tremendous pressure to perform.
Kamarul meanwhile said he expects the power struggle to intensify.
“Johari was very bold in indirectly predicting that the takeover will happen in just half a year,” he said.
“It is worse now that more PKR leaders are beginning to criticise Mahathir over the appointment of Latheefa Koya as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner.
“It’s as if Zahid’s warning is not being taken seriously by Anwar’s men.”
Mahathir has repeatedly assured that he will honour his word and hand over power to Anwar. More recently, however, PKR’s Kapar MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid urged Mahathir to state clearly when he will let Anwar take over as prime minister.
Abdullah said it wasn’t good enough for Mahathir to simply say that he would hand over power to Anwar without being “clear as to the time frame”.