Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has put to rest speculation that he will step aside for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim next year.
In an interview recorded during the Asean Summit in Bangkok last weekend, Financial Times correspondent Stefania Palma asked Dr Mahathir directly if he would leave his post in 2020.
“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.
“I’ve had some experience solving financial problems so they want me to solve the problems before I step down,” he said in the interview clip published today.
When asked if he still stood by his insistence that Anwar would be the person to succeed him, Dr Mahathir said yes without hesitation and pointed out that he promised this.
When Palma asked Dr Mahathir to address conspiracy theories that he did not plan to leave the prime minister’s post, he explained that he needed to be careful in appointing a successor due to his previous “mistakes”.
Dr Mahathir handpicked Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Razak in succession to be Malaysia’s prime minister before launching campaigns to oust both men.
Palma seized on this to ask if Dr Mahathir’s reluctance to relinquish the position quickly also meant he considered himself the only person suited to the challenge of leading Malaysia now.
“At the moment, maybe,” Dr Mahathir said.
Pakatan Harapan initially presented a succession plan that would see Anwar take over from Dr Mahathir within two years of the general election but it was later revealed that there is no formal agreement on when it must happen.