Dr Mahathir: Anwar may not have what it takes to steer economy through financial storms

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Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says Anwar may not have what it takes to save Malaysia from economic woes. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says Anwar may not have what it takes to save Malaysia from economic woes. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has suggested that Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim might not be the best person to steer Malaysia’s economy through troubled waters.

Dr Mahathir’s comments come as Anwar attempts to form a new government and take over from Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

In an interview with The Malaysian Insight (TMI) published today, the two-time prime minister said this was based on his observations of Anwar’s handling of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997.

During this time, Dr Mahathir took a two-month sabbatical and left Anwar, who was then deputy prime minister and finance minister, in charge of the country.

“I have tested his capabilities when I was prime minister. I took a holiday for two months and Anwar took over the reins. We had an economic crisis at the time, and his suggestions did not help the country recover its financial standings.

“That is why I had to take over from the finance minister and come up with plans to save the country from economic woes,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying.

It was widely reported that a rift developed between Dr Mahathir and Anwar over how the government should respond to the financial crisis.

The Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) founder was quoted as saying by TMI that Anwar had recklessly followed IMF and World Bank advice at the possible expense of Malaysia's economy.

“He always followed the World Bank and IMF. I told him before if we followed their suggestions, our country would not have enough funds to even pay salaries. But he continued supporting them,” he said.

In the same interview, Dr Mahathir confirmed that neither he nor Pejuang are part of Anwar’s plans to form a new government.

“Even though Bersatu has left Pakatan Harapan (PH), a few others and I are still willing to work with PH to return the mandate to the people.”

“We can get a majority but Anwar has refused to work together with us — me especially,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying.

Dr Mahathir went on to reiterate earlier doubts that Anwar had the numbers in Parliament to form a new government.

“I suspect if I promise he becomes the prime minister, a lot of my very own supporters will reject the idea. Maybe that would lead to not having any majority at all,” he said.

In September, Anwar claimed that he has a “strong, convincing and formidable” majority to form a new government.

But he is still waiting for the Agong to have an audience with other political party leaders to support his claim.

Dr Mahathir told TMI that he remains unconvinced by Anwar’s claims.

“He is still not prime minister today even though he claimed several times he is going to be.

“There have been preparations made for him to be sworn in but alas that did not happen,” he added.

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