Questions over succession plan meant to create tension, says Anwar

Anwar Ibrahim greeting children at the Lembah Pantai parliamentary constituency Raya open house tonight. On his left is MP Fahmi Fadzil.

KUALA LUMPUR: Anwar Ibrahim tonight hit out at the persistent talk over a succession plan which will see him take over the reins from Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Such questions are meant to create tension,” he said when asked to comment on the prime minister’s remarks at the 5th Bloomberg Asean Business Summit in Bangkok.

Mahathir, who is also the Pakatan Harapan chairman, reiterated that he would keep his promise to hand over the baton to the PKR president when he was asked about the matter in an interview.

However, Mahathir said “the time is not very specific”, adding that there may be some things he needed to do before stepping down.

Anwar, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Lembah Pantai parliamentary constituency Raya open house here, said as prime minister, Mahathir must be responsible for managing the state of the economy.

“But the question of transition, the promise to let go of that position, it’s very clear,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be announced to everyone (the specifics of the handover).”

Anwar added that he is happy with the various meetings he has had with Mahathir where the latter reassured him on the matter.

Saying this was a done deal, he questioned those who wanted to make a big deal about it.

“Seriously, you cannot ask a sitting prime minister to detail … his succession.”

Under a deal struck by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) leadership, Anwar is supposed to succeed Mahathir as prime minister in two years’ time.

Last month, Mahathir gave his assurance that he would hand over the reins to Anwar as promised but no time frame had been given for the transfer of power.

Mahathir previously said he needed between two and a half and three years to fix problems related to the country’s finances, inherited from the previous government.

Meanwhile, on criticism PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali is facing over a picture showing him seated at the same table with the attorney-general and the inspector-general of police at a recent event, Anwar said it was just a coincidence.

“I don’t think it is a problem. I still believe in the professionalism and integrity of the police to carry out investigations without being influenced,” he said, adding that this was likely just the standard seating arrangement for the function.

Azmin is currently embroiled in a controversy after videos surfaced of two men engaging in homosexual acts. A PKR Youth leader emerged to say he and Azmin were the ones featured in the videos.

Police are investigating PKR Santubong Youth chief Haziq Aziz for various offences, including carnal intercourse against the order of nature and distributing obscene materials.

Azmin has strongly denied Haziq’s allegation and has threatened to sue.

‘Master other languages like English and Mandarin as well’

Asked to comment on a PAS Muslimat delegate’s call, during the ongoing muktamar today, for an end to vernacular schools as they do not unite the races, the Port Dickson MP said that this was an improper view.

Salamiah Md Nor, who said she was speaking on behalf of the women’s wing, also said Mandarin should not become a second language for Malaysians.

“Bahasa Malaysia is the national language, the official language,” Anwar said. “But other languages can be developed.

“If Malaysia wants to progress, then other than the official language — which must be accepted by all without compromise — mastering English, Chinese and other languages is important and gives benefits to us.”

He said those who feel the mastery of other languages is not important are not following changes in the world now.

“We are not saying that we must place less importance on Bahasa Malaysia,” he said, adding that the position of the language was already spelt out in the Federal Constitution.

“But to underestimate and think lowly of other languages is something that is not smart and improper.”

Present at tonight’s event was Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil, PKR vice-president Tian Chua and other party leaders.

Fahmi, who is also PKR communications director, said Haziq has yet to respond to the show-cause letter the party sent him on May 20 for tarnishing the name, image and reputation of the party.

He said this may be discussed tomorrow at the party’s political bureau meeting.

He also shrugged off the view that PKR was not being firm in giving Haziq “a chance”.

Fahmi said they are giving space to the police to carry out their investigations.

“We will take action when the authorities finish their investigations,” he told reporters.