PETALING JAYA: PPBM deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir has not dismissed suggestions that he could play a bigger role at the federal level when his father retires, he told the Nikkei Asian Review recently.
“As and when it is seen necessary for the country that I would be placed at the federal level, I am willing and able to assume that responsibility,” said the Kedah menteri besar, who is the third son of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Mukhriz was among the casualties at the height of the 1MDB controversy in 2015-2016, when then-prime minister Najib Razak purged senior Umno leaders critical of his handling of the issue. He eventually quit as Kedah MB in 2016 following a coup from local leaders before being sacked from Umno.
Critics of Mahathir have often said that he is grooming his son to assume the prime ministerial post.
But Mukhriz appeared to sidestep the question, suggesting that there are others who are eyeing the top post.
“I’m not really ambitious, I don’t set myself a course that I must become a prime minister one day as some other people do,” he told Nikkei.
Under a deal struck by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) leadership, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is supposed to succeed Mahathir as prime minister in two years’ time.
Mahathir has repeatedly assured that the handover will take place, saying it is a promise he will fulfil.
But there appears to be pressure from supporters of both Anwar and Mahathir, with the former group calling for a specific succession date to ensure a smooth handover.
Mahathir’s loyalists, on the other hand, have suggested that Anwar is impatient.
Mukhriz said there was no written agreement among PH leaders on the actual date for Anwar to take over.
“There was no agreement that it has to be two years. There may have been suggestions like that, but nothing was stated on paper or in a verbal agreement,” he said.
He said at 94, his father was still capable.
“Although we acknowledge his age, he has not shown any signs of slowing down.”