Not an easy retirement plan and a disturbed transition of power plan for Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad amid a turbulence that almost cracked the Pakatan Harapan government wide open.
The news agency says there are serious complications in Dr Mahathir’s leadership transition plans with a gay sex video scandal threatening to split Pakatan Harapan.
Reuters says the leaked sex videos purporting to show a potential successor to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad with another man have deepened rifts within the ruling coalition and raised concerns of a turbulent transition from the 93-year-old leader.
Reuters also says Azmin is said to be close to Dr Mahathir, repeating rumours in circulation in Malaysia of a possible ‘coup’ that would leave Anwar begging.
The Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali who is said to be a Minister with discretionary powers is seen by foreign media as a powerful man given oversight over some state-owned companies that are at the core of Dr Mahathir’s economic reform program.
However, after a year in power, Azmin was apparently busy with the Felda Ventures scandal’s white paper and did not say or do much for the economy, critics say.
Azmin has denied he was in the videos, saying they were a “nefarious plot” to end his political career, reported Reuters.
The agency hints at Azmin as a student of Dr Mahathir who it says is a shrewd operator who has often taken allies and opponents by surprise in a political career spanning 70 years.
Reuters says Dr Mahathir has been actively nurturing Azmin, who was until recently one of Anwar’s closest aides.
“Clearly Mahathir has taken steps to actively empower Azmin and to almost divide and conquer,” says Peter Mumford, analyst at Eurasia Group.
It says Anwar Ibrahim, the Prime Minister in waiting, has the support of a faction of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat which is determined to ensure he becomes PM.
“They fear a possible flip-flop by Mahathir and are garnering support from sections in the coalition to push the prime minister to announce that he will stand aside in May next year, three people familiar with the matter said.
“Many in PKR acknowledged Azmin as a future prime ministerial candidate, but one lawmaker close to Anwar said he was being “unscrupulously ambitious”.
According to Reuters, Dr Mahathir has fueled suspicion by shifting the timeline of his departure from the initially agreed two years. Most recently he has said he will serve as premier for two to three years.
“The increasingly dirty battle to succeed Mahathir will exacerbate tensions within the ruling coalition, making it harder for the government to reduce the fiscal deficit and boost economic growth,” Reuters quoted Mumford as saying.
“The jockeying for power encourages politically-motivated spending rather than cost cutting.”
Mahathir has fueled suspicion by shifting the timeline of his departure from the initially agreed two years. Most recently he has said he will serve as premier for two to three years.
Other analysts believe the infighting and the attacks against Azmin could potentially strengthen the case for Mahathir to delay the transition or serve out a full government term.
The Independent last week carried an article saying: