Anwar details reluctant agreement to make Dr Mahathir prime minister in new biography

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim revealed that he disagreed with many of his allies who wanted rival Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) first prime minister, detailing the opposition in the fourth instalment of Anwar’s biography authored by Australian criminal lawyer Mark Trowell.

Anwar said his endorsement of Dr Mahathir’s nomination came forced, after his PH allies sought hard to convince him that Dr Mahathir had that push factor that other PH leaders did not to give the coalition its first electoral win.

“I had to be realistic at the time. Although my letters are important because in them I said: ‘Look this guy cannot be trusted. Now that you have agreed, I concur. I mean I’ve no choice but to agree with you guys’,” he told Trowell.

This disagreement was relayed in a letter to the coalition’s top leaders sent from jail ahead of the 14th general election, and which Trowell published excerpts of in his book, titled Anwar Triumphs.

The matter was among the topics the author touched on when he interviewed Anwar at the prime minister’s office in Putrajaya in April 2023 for his latest book, which he featured in the first chapter. This is the first time the letter was made public.

In the letter, which Anwar said was penned in mostly English, the Opposition leader at the time cautioned of “Mahathir’s ploy” and warned his PH colleagues of the “danger of getting caught up in the games of the ruling elites”.

The prime minister suggested it was likely that Dr Mahathir and his allies pretended to support the reform agenda to “maintain outdated, obsolete systems” in a bid to preserve power Anwar described this as “cunning tricks”.

“Throughout our history of struggles there have been challenging episodes which demanded deep thinking and counselling. Our latest issue is in relation to the Citizens’ Declaration that has dragged our leaders and their teams to be in cahoots with Tun Mahathir and Daim Zainuddin,” the letter said.

“We must steer clear of the danger of getting caught up in the games of ruling elites and their cunning tricks to maintain outdated, obsolete systems. Even so, many of our friends believe the new strategy is powerful and (is) the best way to move forward.”

Anwar had also voiced his suspicion of the “Citizens’ Declaration” in the letter. The declaration was the manifesto at the centre of PH’s election messaging he felt served Dr Mahathir’s agenda instead of the reform his coalition had fought for.

Anwar wrote that he believed Dr Mahathir’s only goal was to remove Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and not improving governance of eradicating corruption.

“Essentially the Citizens’ Declaration remains as Tun Mahathir’s document; flawed and not in line with our agenda for reform,” he said.

“Its only focus is the removal of Datuk Seri Najib as prime minister due to the 1MDB scandal. This is obviously a departure from the basis of our struggle for freedom and justice, the rule of law, fighting and abuse of power and corruption, and justice for all,” Anwar added.

In the fourth book, and likely the last, Trowell published more revelations by Anwar about what had transpired behind the scenes as the first PH government scrambled to elect a prime minister, as coalition leaders themselves were caught off guard by their shock victory at the 14th general election.

It also features an exclusive interview with Anwar’s wife and Malaysia’s first woman deputy prime minister. At the launch of Anwar Triumphs here, Trowell said his latest book pays deserving homage to Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, whom he felt is not accorded due recognition for being instrumental in driving PH to its first ever electoral win, as a powerless Anwar observed the behind bars.

The book is now available at all major bookstores nationwide.