[Exclusive] 'I've a solid partnership with Dr M'

HIDIR RIDUAN AND MOHD NOOR ASWAD

AFTER accomplishing the “impossible” — dislodging Barisan Nasional from its 61-year-rule — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says he will be damned if he lets anyone scupper Pakatan Harapan’s plans to effect institutional changes to improve the country.

The PKR de facto leader said he and the prime minister would not allow anyone to derail the sweeping changes underway to bring the country back on an even keel, nor would they allow anyone
to drive a wedge between him
and his once arch-nemesis and bitter political foe, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with whom
he now enjoys “a solid partnership”.

“There has never been a time in our history, when two political rivals, after having battled so intensely and for so long, made peace in order for the ultimate goal, which is to effect change and fulfil the aspirations of the people.

“He (Dr Mahathir) realises that and so do I. We will not allow anything to come between us, to disrupt our goals of fulfilling the people’s aspirations.

“That goal overrides everything else,” he said.

Without so much as acknowledging the murmurs that he could miss out on his chance of becoming prime minister, Anwar said he was holding on to the agreement that was drawn up before PH took on the BN juggernaut and came out victorious, with a landslide victory.

“The agreement stands, and Tun has said it many times. For me, that is enough.

“The transition will become reality, God-willing.

“I also have experienced ‘waiting’ in prison... people say ‘tawakkal’ (trust in God’s divine plan). We can just plan and work towards it.

“Rumours are normal in politics... I have gone through tough times, I am not as naive as before,” Anwar said, adding that it was only right to allow Dr Mahathir the latitude and space to sort out the affairs of the state and initiate reforms.

In an interview with newspapers in the New Straits Times Press stable, Anwar said he has frequent sit-downs with Dr Mahathir to discuss issues of national interest.

“I don’t have to agree with Dr Mahathir 100 per cent, but he is the prime minister and I give him the space for him to govern.”A PORTENT OF THINGS TO COME In his clearest indication yet on his impending return to Putrajaya, Anwar said he had made it clear to Dr Mahathir when he would be ready to assume the premiership.

“I made it very clear... for example, I told him that I am going to Parliament, InsyaAllah, if I win (a parliamentary by-election), before the year-end. Maybe October.”

Asked when would be the right time for him to take over the country’s reins, Anwar said this must only take place when some of the promises for reforms, including institutional reforms, were in motion, and when professionalism in the public sector, that had been eroded, was returned.

“Sometimes, you hear some odd statements (from the civil service) that are contrary to what we (the cabinet) promised... we cannot allow disruptions to the present administration).

“That task lies with Dr Mahathir, who is also ensuring a more open administration,” he said, adding that the prime minister was going all out to ensure the rule of law was observed.

“The government has a very strong position against corruption and cronyism, which, to me, is getting endemic.”ANWAR AS PRIME MINISTER The 71-year-old said as a
democrat, it was natural that he felt strongly against oppression and injustice.

“I am like before. Hopefully more mature in the process... Older, hopefully wiser.

“I feel strongly and passionately about justice. I hate oppression and injustice.

“People should know me and how important it is to be consistent. The rule of governance is the issue of ethics and character, and I think that is what the country needs.”

Asked on who would be the ideal deputy prime minister once he assumes top office, Anwar said it would not be for him to decide unilaterally, considering that PH was a coalition.

“We have to have a consensus... and what is important is, I have to assume the premiership first,” he said.ANWAR’S TICKET TO PARLIAMENT When asked, Anwar thought hard about the options of the parliamentary constituencies open to him that would ultimately return him to the august house after an absence of three years.

There is no shortage of offers from his party but Anwar said he was weighing his options and was undecided on where he would throw his hat in the ring.

“There are several seats I am considering... but I have not made a final decision.

“Because when I look at the performance (of the member of parliament) and if it is stellar, it would be such a waste, so we must consider all that.

“But there are several seats being considered. It’s just that I have not made a final decision yet.”

Anwar said there had been many offers for him to take over seats, offers that were not made public.

“We will see. A parliamentarian would want to serve a constituency where he is most at home.

“Like in Permatang Pauh, we (he and his former constituents) are like siblings where we can joke and banter. That kind of warmth, it is not easy to get to that level,” he said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd