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Mahathir untrustworthy, says Malaysia’s opposition leader

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Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had waited in the wings for nearly two years for former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to fulfil a campaign pledge to hand over the premiership to him. AFP

Mahathir untrustworthy, says Malaysia’s opposition leader

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he no longer has faith in former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, following a series of “broken promises”.

Datuk Seri Anwar, in an interview with CNBC last Friday, said “not now” when asked if he still trusted the former prime minister.

“I am just human, I take people at face value and I think people do change with age, with wisdom, but I am not necessarily right always and, in this particular case, I apologise. I was wrong,” he said. “No regrets.”

Anwar, 72, had waited in the wings for nearly two years for Mahathir, 94, to fulfil a campaign pledge to eventually hand over the premiership to him.

Mahathir refused to commit to a timeline for the transition, which became moot when bickering among the ruling coalition parties led to its collapse last month.

The conflict between Anwar and Mahathir goes way back to the 1990s, when Anwar served as Mahathir’s deputy and was seen as his successor.

But Mahathir fired Anwar in 1998, and the latter spent the next six years in prison on convictions for abuse of power and sodomy. He was freed but went back to jail again in 2015 on a subsequent sodomy charge.

Anwar said Mahathir had “seemed quite sincere”, when visiting him in jail and the courthouse in the run-up to the general election in 2018.

He added that Mahathir had asked him to work together with him, and made “promises in private, and in public, signed documents”.

The two leaders papered over their rivalry to oust then Prime Minister Najib Razak. After their election victory, Anwar received a royal pardon and was freed from jail.

Anwar also told CNBC he plans to “move on” and focus on the plight of the people.

Malaysia’s opposition will support any effective measures by the current government during the coronavirus pandemic, Anwar said, adding that he believes the administration led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin lacks clear plans to battle the outbreak.

THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)/ANN

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