Dr M: Who says I support Anwar?

(MMO) – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has rejected reports describing him as supportive of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becoming prime minister, which were gleaned from his interview with British media.

According to The Star Online news portal today, the former prime minister insisted that imprisoned PKR leader was not eligible to take up the position even if the Pakatan Harapan Opposition pact were to win federal power.

“Who said I support him? If the Opposition wins (the next general election), the new seventh prime minister will have to work to release him. Until then, he cannot be PM,” he was quoted as saying.

He similarly denied that he regretted the past treatment of Anwar, whom he sacked as his deputy in 1998 and proceeded to vilify up to the point of their reunion last year.

Dr Mahathir previously dismissed calls for an apology from Anwar’s family, essentially saying that bygones should remain bygones.

“No, I didn’t say anything about that. What is past is past. If you talk about the past, then we will have a lot of problems,” he said in The Star Online report.

In the interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Dr Mahathir had also said that he would not object for Anwar to become the next prime minister if the latter was able to secure a royal pardon that would allow him to contest in elections.

Dr Mahathir had, up to the interview, refused to endorse Anwar for the position, and instead dropped hints that he would be prepared to return to the position he had held for 22 years if “friends” in the Opposition pact saw fit to ask.

His remarks in the interview triggered a barrage of criticism from political rivals in Umno, who called the apparent volte-face his latest in a series of turnabouts that has seen the once-formidable Dr Mahathir embracing the very same opposition leaders whom he previously attacked and reviled.