Anwar on Dr M sworn in as PM: ‘It should have been me’

Zurairi Ar
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during a press conference at Menara Yayasan Selangor on June 1, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim admitted today to feeling a pang of jealousy when seeing former nemesis Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad sworn in as Pakatan Harapan’s prime minister.

Channel NewsAsia reported him as telling a dialogue session in Singapore how he really felt when watching the ceremony from a hospital ward after undergoing a surgery, while still serving his jail sentence.

“You want me to be honest or politically correct? Politically correct, of course I rejoiced; everybody was so elated. Look, Mahathir swearing in, [signalling a] new era for Malaysia,” he was quoted as saying.

“He came up with a statement saying that once Pakatan Harapan wins, they will then submit an application to the king for immediate pardon [for Anwar].

“But I also felt that I should have been there, you know? I did, I did I do not want to lie to you, I did think about this — it should be me not you,” he reportedly said, referring to Dr Mahathir, to laughter from the crowd.

The incoming PKR president was asked the question by a student from Raffles Institution, as part of the Ho Rih Hwa lecture series with hundreds of students from various Singapore schools, at the Singapore Management University there.

On May 10, Anwar watched the “live” swearing in of Dr Mahathir at the Cheras rehabilitation hospital, together with, among others, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and Seberang Jaya assemblyman Dr Afif Bahardin.

Less than a week later, he was granted a full pardon by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.

Dr Mahathir sacked Anwar as his deputy prime minister in 1998, and the latter was later convicted on charges of sodomy and abuse of power.

Both of them remained political adversaries until Dr Mahathir’s return to politics with the Opposition then. He later led Pakatan Harapan (PH) as its chairman to victory in the May 9 polls.

Anwar is currently staging his return to Parliament with his party PKR forcing a by-election in Port Dickson, where he is slated to contest.

He is PH’s designated prime minister-in-waiting to replace Dr Mahathir.

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