Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is facing a hard time at the start of the week with attacks from both Anwar Ibrahim’s Justice Party and politicians of various formations.
They all have one sentiment towards Dr Mahathir: He is untrustworthy, or he is a ‘fake reformist’.
At least three politicians attacked the elderly statesman for his apparent refusal to lay down a timeline for his departure as Prime Minister and the handing over of power to Anwar Ibrahim.
The most recent statement from Dr Mahathir on the issue is that he will soon announce when he is leaving his post as PM.
He also told a radio station in Kuala Lumpur that he dislikes the idea of a setting a ‘timeline’ for his departure because it prevents him from fulfilling his current mission.
At one time he said he would step down as prime minister in three years, or before the next general election, due to take place in 2023.
But a member of Justice Party’s advisory council has expressed a lack of confidence in a promise by Dr Mahathir on handing over power for Anwar Ibrahim to take over as prime minister.
“Mahathir… sometimes he says this, other times he says that. I cannot hold him to his word,” says Syed Husin who is a founder member of Anwar’s party.
Mahathir recently said he would step down in three years at most but Syed Husin is not impressed.
Syed Husin says Mahathir would make decisions with the leadership but would end up doing something else. “And then he would say he forgot,” said Syed Husin, who is deputy chairman of PKR’s advisory council.
The latter also says there was no official time period for the handover to Anwar. In an agreement made in 2018 prior to the elections, Pakatan did put in writing the prime minister would be him (Mahathir) and the deputy prime minister would be Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the wife of Anwar.
He also said no one expected Anwar to be released soon after the elections as he was serving a sodomy jail term.
“No one had expected that Anwar would be released from jail so soon,” Syed Husin said. “At that time, it was agreed by all parties that when Anwar was released and given a royal pardon, then that would be the time he replaces Mahathir.
“At that time, it was said that this process will take two years — to release him and for him to be given a pardon. We did not expect that he would be released so early, that it could happen within six months,” he adds.
But he agrees there was already a consensus between Mahathir and Anwar on the transfer of power. “We wait and see if the consensus will be implemented or not by Mahathir,” he said.
According to Syed Husin, Anwar should be given the chance to be PM before the next general elections to allow him to set his priorities and consolidate his power.
“At least (give him) two years to arrange all kinds of plans and campaigns,” he said.
Nevertheless, a former Justice Party member, Zaid Ibrahim who was a deputy minister in ex-PM Najib Razak’s cabinet lambasted the Pakatan Harapan coalition, calling the lack of timeline for leadership transition as a ‘joke’.
In an op-ed for Malaysiakini, he wrote, “Who will be the next prime minister, and when, are important for this new government and the country. It already has become the subject of jokes.
“It is absolute nonsense to say that the handover will be sorted out by Harapan leaders in due course. Unless this open-ended agreement was what was agreed in May 2018, Harapan leaders must show courage and dignity to reaffirm, once and for all, the handover date.”
A former aide to Anwar in the days of the ‘reformasi’ who jumped back to the Umno while Anwar was serving his first jail sentence, however, says Dr Mahathir is a ‘fake reformist’, urging him to step down.
Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor says Dr M has misled the people and should refrain from making “fraudulent” statements on the world stage that he is a champion of justice and opposed oppression.
“Mahathir has clearly failed to defend the principles and spirit of reformasi be it deliberately or otherwise,” he added, citing how the plight of the poor had worsened under his administration.
Youngest Minister To The Rescue
Nevertheless, Dr Mahathir has the backing of his youngest minister, the Minister of Sports Syed Saddiq who blasted Syed Husin for saying Dr Mahathir is ‘untrustworthy’ and the people are worried or feel duped in the transition plans to promote Anwar as PM.
The young man tried his best to show that Dr Mahathir was sincere, there was no timeline discussed at the formation of the coalition with Dr Mahathir’s party and explained why Dr M is travelling a lot outside Malaysia, which was criticised by Syed Husin.
The most interesting element in this cacophony is that the person of interest in the whole transition affair, Anwar Ibrahim, is silent! -/TISG