PETALING JAYA: Anwar Ibrahim tonight revealed that there were feelings of distrust among Pakatan Harapan leaders about Dr Mahathir Mohamad being named as the PH candidate to be prime minister again should the coalition regain power.
Anwar, who is PKR president, said that Pakatan Harapan leaders had agreed to name him as the prime ministerial candidate when the Pakatan Harapan presidential council met recently.
However, Mahathir had shot down the idea as he wanted a third stint as prime minister. He was the prime minister from 1981-2003 and 2018-2020.
“We argued and I explained that he had been the prime minister for 24 years and he should give the post to someone else. We had already made a promise,” he said, in an apparent reference to a PH pact before the 2018 general election, that Mahathir was to hand over the reins after an unspecified period.
“Everything was discussed but he was adamant,” Anwar said during a Facebook Live session.
He said distrust arose when terms were set, should Mahathir be named as the candidate. The fact that an agreement had to be signed stipulating Mahathir to be at the helm for six months meant there was suspicion, he said.
“Based on our experience, we cannot trust (him) 100%.”
Anwar’s explanation comes days after PKR’s central leadership council said the party will not support Mahathir as PH’s candidate for prime minister.
The party said it would stick to the PH consensus for Anwar to be the coalition’s candidate if the opposition returns to power.
Anwar went on to say that he could not accept Mahathir’s proposal of being reappointed to the post as he was not confident it would be in the nation’s best interest, adding that six months was too short a period to overcome economic challenges in a post-Covid-19 era.
Neither was it enough time to carry out reforms of institutions such as the judiciary and carrying out anti-corruption programmes.
Anwar said that he would be in a difficult position should he be Mahathir’s deputy. “I joked with my colleagues from PH. How long must I suffer. Enough is enough.”
He said Mahathir had yet to secure the support of a majority of MPs. “But they believe that he can obtain the numbers. That is just an opinion,” Anwar said.
He said PH remained strong despite the recent differences. “DAP and Amanah are not trying to weaken PH,” he said.
DAP and Amanah recently urged PKR to return to the PH consensus to nominate Mahathir as the sole candidate to be prime minister, which they said was “a second option agreed upon at the PH meeting of May 30 chaired by Anwar himself.
Their statement did not sit well with some quarters in PKR, with one leader from Selangor urging the party to ditch DAP and Amanah.
Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.