Working with former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not a deal with the devil, said opposition leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Wan Azizah was asked “how desperate for power” she had become, to work with the man who once backed the imprisonment of her husband Anwar Ibrahim.
The PKR president responded that Mahathir’s joining of the opposition showed how bad Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was, and how much a change of government was needed.
“It is not an alliance with the devil, no. If the man himself, Anwar can forgive (Mahathir), as the saying goes ‘to err is human, to forgive divine’,” Wan Azizah said.
Mahathir had left Umno to become part of the opposition in February last year. His new Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is now part of the Pakatan Harapan coaltion, which Wan Azizah leads.
Meanwhile, Wan Azizah dismissed a question on whether the opposition was now aiding the former premier’s lackies, in which interviewer Mehdi Hasan cited Anwar’s remarks in 2015 that “a Mahathir-led removal of Najib, will only satisfy some cronies”.
“I don’t agree. We didn’t ask him to join, he joined us on his own free will,” she said.
Asked if that meant she believed Mahathir’s views on politics, democracy and human rights had changed, Wan Azizah replied that the nonagenarian may hold to some old views, but that his desire to change a “kleptocratic government” signalled the need for change.
She also indicated her willingness to work with the Bersatu chairperson, without a formal apology for his past actions against Anwar.
“We have to go beyond that, if I’m going to wait for an apology and make such a big deal out of it… he has come, he has almost admitted, and now he is with us,” she said.
Mahathir in an interview with Malaysiakini last October, said he has buried the hatchet with Anwar.
This follows a reunion between the two men last September, when Mahathir made a surprise appearance at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to support Anwar’s bid to quash the National Security Council Act.