Anwar says he trusts Mahathir will keep his promise

NST Online

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says he believes Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will keep his promise to hand over the reins to him.

In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, Anwar said he believed that some quarters are trying to drive a wedge between him and Dr Maharthir for personal reasons.

"I trust him and there is no reason for me to question. As long as I continue to have a good rapport with him, it is alright," said.

Under Pakatan Harapan’s agreement, Dr Mahathir will step down and hand over the role of prime minister to Anwar in two years.

Anwar, 71, said he wants to give Dr Mahathir a free hand in running the country.

"The decision to be active in parliament is strategic in a sense that you don't create an impression that I am trying to disturb and make things difficult for Mahathir," he said, in reference to his plans to contest in a by-election and become a member of parliament.

"I intend to be in parliament the latest by October through a by-election," he said.

Anwar, who was former deputy prime minister, will also be formally announced as the PKR president when the party’s poll concludes in November.

Anwar said he also aims to play a "check-and-balance" role by looking at institutional reforms that include a review into the Bumiputera policy.

The policy, which is race-based and [has been] abused to enrich cronies has to stop," he said Anwar. He said the government should return to the policy's original objective of alleviating poverty among Bumiputera.

"The policy that helps the marginalised, minorities and Bumiputera lagging behind has to continue not as a Bumiputra policy but as affirmative actions," he said.

He said improvements could also be made in state procurement and the fight against corruption by reforming the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission into a truly independent body.

Anwar said that while he supported Dr Mahathir's revision of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects, he acknowledges the need to improve Malaysia's relationship with China, which is the world's second largest economy.

He also advocated greater tolerance in Malaysia and said more respect is needed among the various groups, including gays, bisexuals and those who identify as transgender.

"If people have their own sexual orientation, it is up to them," he said, adding that the government will not recognise such partnerships legally, in reference to same-sex marriages.

* This article first appeared in the Nikkei Asian Review. For the original version: CLICK HERE for the article © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd