Dr M in New York: Anwar will be prime minister, that’s a promise

(NST) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be the next Malaysian prime minister.

“That is my promise,” was Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s reply to a question at the Second Annual Bloomberg Global Business Forum moderated by journalist Fareed Zakaria yesterday (26/9).

Dr Mahathir said he had agreed to become the prime minister as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was in jail when the new government took over.

“I made a promise that I would not stay long as Prime Minister. Maybe two years, maybe more, maybe less.

“The important thing is we need to have the cooperation of four parties. Some of our past history does not contribute towards working together.

“So we have to forget the past and focus on the more important issue at that time which is getting rid of the previous prime minister. For that we are willing to forget our past quarrels.”

Dr Mahathir said Malaysians wanted a new prime minister but Anwar was in jail at the time.

“People want to have a new Prime Minister, not the old Prime Minister, but at that time, they had no choice because the other leader is in jail, so he could not very well lead the party.

“So I agreed that I will be there for maybe two years and then the new leader will take leader.”

On eradicating corruption, Dr Mahathir said the first priority was to have to ensure leaders were clean.

“If the leader is corrupt, then there’s no way we’re going to stop corruption from spreading. “In any country there would be corruption to some degree but the idea is to keep corruption to the minimum and that is done by what we call leaderhip by example.”

He said the government was serious in imposing restrictions on the Cabinet, including the prime minister.

“All of them would have to declare their assets, properties and earnings. They would be scrutinised not by the politicians but by officers.

“So we’re doing everything we can to reduce or even eliminate corruption. At this moment, people feel very convinced that we have actually put a stop to the gross kind of corruption that characterised the previous government.”