Dr M Says No Actual Handover Date, May Be the Best Man for the Job Now

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There is no set time for Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s handover of power to Anwar Ibrahim, the prime minister reiterated in an interview with the Financial Times.

Dr Mahathir also agreed with the interviewer, Stefania Palma, that he is likely the only person who can run Malaysia right now.

Palma asked him if he would step down in 2020 “as originally planned”.

“No. There was no actual date or time mentioned. But the actual time that I will be there depends on the problems that we face,” Dr Mahathir said.

“I’ve had some experience resolving financial problems, so they want me to solve the problems before I step down,” he said in the interview recorded during the Asean Summit in Bangkok last weekend but released today.

Asked if he would still hand over to Anwar, who is PKR president and Port Dickson MP, Dr Mahathir replied: “Yes, it is, it is a promise that I made”.

To a question that about conspiracy theories that he might not step down at all, he said he had made “mistakes” in the past when appointing successors.

“So, I don’t want to make mistakes this time,” he said.

Dr Mahathir hand-picked Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Razak in succession to be Malaysia’s prime minister before launching campaigns to oust both men.

“So, you think Mahathir Mohamad is the only person who can run Malaysia right now?” said Palma.

“At the moment, maybe,” said Dr Mahathir.

The 2020 transition date was mentioned by Anwar in an interview with Bloomberg in September.

The transition, to which all parties in the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition have agreed, has been widely reported as taking place “in about two years” after PH formed the federal government last year.

Both Dr Mahathir and Anwar, despite their repeated assurance that the transition to the latter will take place, are often asked if it is still on the cards.

Dr Mahathir has said it is difficult to set a fixed timeline because of the country’s debt problems. The non-committal answer has irked several Anwar supporters in PKR who have publicly attacked Dr Mahathir, who is also PH chairman.

Anwar has publicly stated that he and Dr Mahathir have agreed that a fixed date should not be stated in public as it could undermine the current prime minister.