MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Does Dr M have something up his sleeve?

Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim: the men at the centre of a power conundrum.
PETALING JAYA: A political analyst believes there is more than meets the eye to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s latest reassurance about not hanging on to office.
Azmi Hassan, a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said Mahathir’s recent statement that he will step down when the nation’s debt is at a manageable level was “a clear sign to aspiring PM candidates that Dr Mahathir has a surprise up his sleeve”.
Under a deal struck by the Pakatan Harapan leadership, PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim is supposed to succeed Mahathir as prime minister two years after the coalition took over the federal government.
Azmi told FMT that Mahathir was “using excuses such as stabilising the nation’s debt” and that Mahathir was “using the time-tested excuse or ploy of soliciting the people’s support for him to stay put as PM beyond the two-year time limit”.
He noted that PH had continually harped on the national debt during campaigning for the general election. “It was a very effective issue back then and it remains an effective and convincing issue now,” he said.
Azmi also said a three-year time frame mentioned by Mahathir was not clear-cut.
“Did he mean that this three-year period will start from the first day of PH’s first day in government or their first anniversary?” he asked.
In any case, Azmi said Mahathir is going all-out to resolve the country’s debts before stepping down to make PH stronger when GE15 comes.
Universiti Utara Malaysia analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, on the other hand, said it was likely that Mahathir just did not remember what exactly he said on the matter previously because of his age.
“This led to the seemingly contradictory statements from him on the time frame,” he said, adding that too many people keep asking him about this on many occasions.
Despite this, he said Mahathir has been consistent in saying that he would honour the agreement, noting as well that the PH presidential council should not be underestimated in this regard.
“Eventually, it’s this council which will determine the question of when the transition needs to happen. So, any sense of a violation of the agreement will surely force the council to act,” he said.
“It’s just that the lack of a specific time frame gives him (Mahathir) the leeway to decide the question of when he will pass the baton.”
Kamarul also said that Mahathir is sincere in leaving behind a good and strong legacy as well as leaving the government’s shape in tip-top condition, noting that he only retired in 2003 after settling the “mess” of 1997.
“It’s just that people whose political or business fates depend on the longevity of him helming the nation would, of course, try to make him stay as long as possible, possibly till the end of the term.
“However, I am confident that despite this, and even if Dr Mahathir accedes to their pressure, he will not be able to go for more than three years.”
Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun also talked this down, saying Mahathir’s main “political concern” is seeing that the reins of his office are not passed on to Anwar.
“If that is ensured, I think Dr Mahathir is willing to step down, as he did 15 years ago,” he said, referring to Mahathir’s earlier tenure as prime minister.
“He will step down as PM to give way to someone else and it may not necessarily be Anwar,” he added. “But the timing of this will be at Dr Mahathir’s liking.” - FMT

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