KUALA LUMPUR: TUN Daim Zainuddin has rubbished talk that he is emerging as a force to stop PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from becoming the next prime minister.
Daim, in an interview with This Week in Asia, published yesterday, said he could not understand how claims could emerge that he was “building a political power base” when Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had not even given him any executive powers in the first place.
Daim had been entrusted with heading the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), which critics claimed had too much power and, at times, outranked the cabinet.
“He (Dr Mahathir) wanted to know about what went on after he retired in 2003, to do planning for the future, so we were tasked with doing the research and gathering facts.
“We act solely as an advisory body, the government makes decisions, not the council,” he was quoted as saying.
Daim said his role was not unlike the one he played in the late 1990s when Dr Mahathir used his expertise to negotiate through the Asian Financial Crisis. Daim, at the time, was made head of a special task force and later appointed finance minister — his second stint after initially occupying the role from 1984 to 1991 — after Dr Mahathir sacked Anwar as his deputy and finance minister.
Daim, in the interview, maintained he had a healthy working relationship with Anwar and denied speculation that he was trying to stop Anwar from taking over from Dr Mahathir.
He said he met Anwar six times while the latter was in prison and again after his release.
“Succession from Barisan Nasional to (Pakatan Harapan) was smooth, so why not within the same party? Why should I stop it? What powers have I got?
“I don’t know where they get the idea that I don’t want Anwar. Who am I? I am more than 80 years old. I don’t have any party. You are telling me the entire cabinet is going to listen to me? I don’t know how people even entertain this kind of rubbish,” he was quoted as saying.
Under Pakatan Harapan’s agreement, Dr Mahathir would serve as the prime minister for two years before stepping down for Anwar to take over.
Anwar, in an interview with the New Straits Times Press, said he had no issue working with Dr Mahathir and that he would do the necessary when the time comes.
Anwar has also indicated that he may go for a parliamentary seat via a by-election by year-end. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd