If I had a penny for every time Mahathir said he would step down

Tarak Singh

If I had a penny for every time Mahathir said he would step down, I would be one rich man.

Most recently his succession timeline moved up to November 2020, after Malaysia is set to host the summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries.

This new timeline was made at the Doha Forum in Qatar, where he added that he could not guarantee who would succeed him as prime minister, despite his promise to hand over power to his appointed successor Anwar Ibrahim a mere four days before.

Is no one else ready to tear out their hair in frustration at the 94-year-old whom we voted in as a transitional leader, but who refuses to exit gracefully?

Mahathir has repeatedly stated that his trepidation to hand over power comes from his belief that he, and only he, can help Malaysia get rid of all their problems.

It is incredibly dangerous when a leader believes he is all-mighty, and that it is not a team effort, but a singular one that can save a nation. And it is incredibly delusional considering the socioeconomic decline and the damage that has befallen Pakatan Harapan since Mahathir took charge.

His refusal to commit to an exact date is a cause of instability to the nation, a nation who is in desperate need of security after a year marked by the broken promises from the new government.

With Azmin and Anwar’s continuous rival, Mahathir has not stepped in to solidify and unify his coalition nor has he stabilized the way forward. Rather he seems to be riding on their tension to prolong his own rule.

Dr. Mahathir told Reuters in an interview that “I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that, I thought that a change immediately before the APEC summit would be disruptive,”- But Tun M,  what is disruptive is the constant back and forth and your grip on the power seat that is turning your hands blue.

Does he truly think he is the only politician that could run a smooth summit? Or does he wish to be the only prime minister to have hosted the APEC meeting twice?

Asked if a handover could come in December 2020, Mahathir said: “We’ll look at that when the time comes,”- yet again, skirting the issue, trying to prolong his leadership and avoiding a commitment to a specific date.

We know Mahathir is a powerful and influential leader, how else would you explain his previous 22 years of premiership only to come back for a second time as the oldest prime minister in the world. But now this magnetic leadership is being used and abused by him to extend his rule for far longer than what was agreed, at the detriment of the Malaysian people.

Someone must have the courage to stand up and tell Mahathir that he may not star for longer than the two years which was agreed upon. For the sake of the country’s future.