Dr M: I’ll Keep PM Succession Promise

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Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated his promise to relinquish the prime minister’s post within two years of taking office time but fell short of saying he trusts his successor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

  • Wants to fix the country’s debt before he steps down
  • No Cabinet reshuffle

In an interview at the 5th Bloomberg Asean Business Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, Dr Mahathir was asked by host Haslinda Amin if he felt Anwar was ready for the prime minister’s role.

“It’s not an issue of whether he is ready or not, I made a promise and I will keep my promise,” said Dr Mahathir.

Haslinda: So it will happen within two years?

Dr Mahathir: Time is not very specific.

Haslinda: Were you reluctant to put a timeframe to it?

Dr Mahathir: Because there may be something I need to do before I step down.

Haslinda: What still needs to be done before you pass the power?

Dr Mahathir: You know, in 1997 there was this financial crisis. I was on holiday in UK that time. Anwar was acting PM but because of the financial crisis I had to return, take over and handle the problem. So if something like that happens I need to stay on. But preferably I will step down.

Haslinda: Do you trust Anwar Ibrahim?

Dr Mahathir: It’s not a question of trust.

Haslinda: Do you trust Anwar Ibrahim?

Dr Mahathir: I made that promise knowing my affiliations with him was not always that good but the fact is that I made this promise and I will stick to this promise.

Dr Mahathir, who was prime minister from 1981-2003, said his one regret after stepping down was assuming that his successors would do better than him.

He said many pleaded with him to come back to the fray a week after stepping down.

“Well, I regret stepping down because I thought my successor would do better than me,” said the 93-year-old.

“But after I stepped down within the first week, people came to see me and said please do something about this because the new prime minister has dropped several projects which they promised to carry on.

“Currently the debt in the country is too big and as the GDP (gross domestic product) increases so does the debt so this is one thing we must fix.”

Dr Mahathir also said that he will not be reshuffling his Cabinet line-up for the time being.

“I’ve never done it in the past and I’m not going to do it now.

“It causes a lot of heartaches and hurts relationships. Our ministers are new and unlike other countries, we in Malaysia don’t like changing ministers,” he explained. – MMO