Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Malaysia's Mahathir says he will remain leader for 1-2 years

Malaysia's Mahathir says he will remain leader for 1-2 years

Anwar's release also sets up a tantalising reunion with his one-time mentor turned nemesis and now ally again - Mahathir.

"This matter is up for discussion, but Anwar has never demanded to be prime minister immediately", she was quoted as telling reporters at a rehabilitation hospital where her husband is recuperating from a shoulder surgery. He was surrounded by his family, lawyers and prison guards before driving to the palace for an audience with King Sultan Muhammad V.

"The king, with the advice of the pardons board of the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, has allowed a full pardon and given an immediate release for". In a statement Sunday, Anwar reiterated his party's support for Mahathir's leadership but called for decisions to be made jointly. Anwar became Mahathir's heir apparent, but they fell out during the 1998 Asian financial crisis and Anwar was sacked.

Mahathir did not say why he would step down after the short period of time, but his age could be one reason.

"If there is no case against him, we don't go for detention without trial", Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying in the report. Anwar's prison sentence ends June 8, but without a royal pardon he would be barred from politics for five years.

Mr Mahathir has promised to step aside for Mr Anwar to become prime minister within two years.

"The hope is that Anwar and Mahathir will find a way to work together especially during this period of transition", said Rashaad Ali, research analyst with the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad plans to remain in power for one or two years after his historic election win last week, reports The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).


Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is the new deputy premier, has said there was no rush for Anwar to take over.

"The pardon timing is fast, and this speaks to the recognition that his conviction was unjust", said Bridget Welsh, a political science professor at the John Cabot University in Rome.

Differences have already appeared between supporters of Mahathir and Anwar over cabinet positions and Anwar's role.

Anwar, Mahathir said, "maybe [will] have a seat in the cabinet" after he is voted into office and have a similar role to other heads of individual opposition parties within the alliance.

The agenda for the Mahathir government includes scrapping a goods-and-services tax, reviewing large infrastructure projects, reintroducing fuel subsidies and cutting spending. "But Mahathir may be reluctant to hand over to his former nemesis, and if he drags his feet other scenarios could come into play", said Peter Mumford of the Eurasia Group in a research note.

In his Tuesday remarks, Mahathir said whether Najib would serve time in jail would depend on the results of a probe into the scandal.

Despite his firebrand reputation, he later confounded liberal supporters in 1982 by joining the conservative United Malays National Organization (UMNO) led by Mahathir.

After barring Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor from leaving the country on Saturday, the leader said criminal charges may be imminent.

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