KUALA LUMPUR— Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said that he does not intend to be the prime minister if the federal Opposition wins the next election, but said he may be “forced” to reconsider if Pakatan Harapan wishes so.
The 91-year-old who left office in 2003 after 22 years as Malaysia’s prime minister said he would not want to take up the post after retirement.
“I can’t belakangkan [go behind] my friends in Pakatan Harapan, if they have such a proposal and if there is agreement [on it], maybe I will be forced to consider.
“But at this moment, I disagree with becoming the prime minister. I have stated that after I retire I will not become prime minister anymore,” he said in his second “live” interview broadcasted on his official Facebook account.
When asked for the role he envisioned himself playing if the federal Opposition takes Putrajaya, Dr Mahathir said he would be ready to act as adviser to the next prime minister.
“I feel that when I retired also, that at the very least my views are sought by the ruling party on certain issues or problems faced because I was prime minister for 22 years, I have much experience and information that may be useful.
“That’s why if there is a government formed after this 14th general election, I am given an opportunity to give my opinions. If there are questions that need discussions, I am prepared to take part in the discussions to find a solution to the problem faced,” he said.
Dr Mahathir noted that he had as prime minister set up committees composed of experts to find solutions to problems, noting that the currency control imposed by his administration during Malaysia’s currency crisis was one of the many proposed solutions that arose during such discussions.
“That is my method, I hope the new prime minister will use that method and I am ready to take part in the committee,” he said when asked what he would be his first step to help the country’s economy and society if appointed as adviser.
Dr Mahathir’s name has appeared in various opinion polls on who should be the designated prime minister candidate from Pakatan Harapan. The opposition pact has yet to formally decide on such a candidate, although PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has repeatedly been touted to be the choice candidate of many opposition parties.
In PKR-linked outfit Invoke Centre for Policy Initiatives’ (I-CPI) survey results released last week, Dr Mahathir was the third most popular candidate out of nine opposition leaders to be the next prime minister at 5.7 per cent out of 17,962 voters, as compared to PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at 8 per cent and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang at 6.1 per cent.
In a previous similar survey last year by the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) party chaired by Dr Mahathir, PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was the top choice to be PM at 37.3 per cent of the 2,881 polled, followed by Dr Mahathir (35.9 per cent). That survey involved 17 politicians from opposition parties and ruling party Umno.