Date of Anwar taking over to be announced, says Dr M

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and wife Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali at the launch of the National Culture and Heritage Charter at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said he would announce a date to hand over power to Anwar Ibrahim.

“I’ll announce later but I will keep my promise,” the prime minister said when asked for his comments on remarks by Anwar that he would take over the top post next year.

Mahathir was speaking to reporters after launching the National Culture and Heritage Charter at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia here today.

Anwar had told Bloomberg in an interview earlier this week that he would become prime minister in 2020, saying his rivals had no credibility.

Meanwhile, Mahathir said the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project will proceed as planned after economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram suggested that the mega project be suspended.

“If they are willing to negotiate with the Chinese and tell me that they can suspend, I’ll follow them,” Mahathir said.

Jomo, who was part of the Council of Eminent Persons handpicked by Mahathir, said ECRL, which connects Port Klang and Kota Bharu, would be under-utilised and heavily subsidised, with the cost borne by future generations.

Mahathir said the existing contract for the construction of ECRL is based on a reduced cost.

Asked if the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission will start an investigation into the ECRL project and its links with the 1MDB scandal, Mahathir said it was up to the anti-graft agency.

“We don’t ask them to do anything,” he added.

Mahathir also hit back at Najib Razak’s criticism of the government’s sale of Khazanah assets, and accused the former leader of leaving a huge financial burden on the current administration.

“Now, of course, he talks a lot, but all these things were carried out by him, including buying the ships from China.

“It’s not our decision. He said this is stupid but he is telling himself because he was the one who bought, not me.”

Mahathir had earlier said that Putrajaya would dispense with assets to raise funds to clear debts.