Staying away from federal politics since the electoral victory of the Pakatan Harapan headed by his father Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Mukhriz Mahathir the Menteri Besar of Kedah threw more fuel on the fire burning within the ruling coalition.
Saying he is willing to taken on a bigger role now if asked, Mukhriz denied there is a sealed deal for his father to quit power in two years after the election victory last year.
In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, the usually conservative Mukhriz says, “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.”
This may be seen as a double knock under the belly for Anwar who says he is the Prime Minister to be and that Dr Mahathir is arranging for him to accede to power soon.
Nevertheless, he says there will be no concerted effort from his side to push him to become the country’s prime minister after Anwar, although he will remain open if the opportunity arises.
The Kedah Menteri Besar is a businessman and is the deputy president of the Bersatu, the party of Dr Mahathir.
The Prime Minister has recently taken a bold stance calling for Malay parties to either dissolve or for their members to join his party in droves.
This has caused an additional strain in the relationship between the Pakatan partners, pitting the Democratic Action Party and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat of Anwar Ibrahim against the Bersatu.
Mahathir’s party is not always in favour of reforms and is not only playing the ‘race’ and ‘religion’ cards but is also pushing the reform agendas under the carpet, analyst says.
Mukhriz clearly rejected the assumption there is a deal between his father and Anwar on a timeline for the succession plans.
In no uncertain terms, he says there is no agreement that it has to be two years, adding there may have been suggestions like that, but nothing was stated on paper or in a verbal agreement.
He also says Dr Mahathir must be given enough time to do what he wants to do and be allowed to ‘repair’ the economy and finances before the handover to Anwar.
Analysts say Mukhriz is saying the obvious being the son of the Prime Minister he is not bound to support calls for Dr Mahathir to quit.
In an attempt to calm the waters, he says there is no political tussle in Pakatan as reported and there is no dispute among the parties on the choice of the next PM, that is Anwar Ibrahim.