DON’T hate Dr Mahathir Mohamad, hate his deeds, Nurul Izzah Anwar said.
As Pakatan Harapan components except for PKR agree to name him interim prime minister, Izzah, whose family suffered after Dr Mahathir sacked her father, Anwar Ibrahim, said it was time to let go of the past for the country’s sake.
Anwar’s eldest daughter spoke to The Malaysian Insight just before last weekend’s Pakatan Harapan retreat at the Perdana Leadership Foundation, where DAP, Bersatu and Amanah came to agreement that the former prime minister would serve as the opposition’s interim prime minister.
Izzah said Malaysia had long been a polarised nation and now was the time to build bridges.
“This is how I view Tun (Dr Mahathir). I take it with a very open heart and mind.
“We were taught not to hate the man. We were taught to hate what he did – the transgressions against the rule of law, democratic principles and the building framework of this nation.
“So yes, I am very clear that many things he did were completely unacceptable,” the PKR vice-president said.
Izzah said her principles would never allow her to say that what Dr Mahathir did when he was in power was right, but it was crucial that the opposition had him on their team to meet its agenda for reform.
She said PH embraced Dr Mahathir because Malaysia and not their personal feelings took priority.
“For how long will we allow ourselves to be stuck in the past? We need to build the future.”
At the opposition coalition’s retreat in Putrajaya on December 1 and 2, PH proposed its chairman Dr Mahathir for interim prime minister and its president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for deputy prime minister if the opposition were to assume power.
Bersatu, Amanah, and DAP agreed to the proposal but PKR, Anwar’s party, has yet to reach a consensus.
PKR was formed and helmed by Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah and his supporters after Dr Mahathir sacked Anwar as deputy prime minister in 1998 and saw him jailed over allegations of corruption and sodomy.
For years, Dr Mahathir, who served the longest as prime minister from 1981 to 2003, was viewed as the enemy of the opposition and blamed for the current state of the country.
The idea of making him interim prime minister has attracted mixed feelings. In an online poll by The Malaysian Insight, 57% was in favour of the Dr Mahathir-Dr Wan Azizah pairing while the rest said no.
Izzah, who is Lembah Pantai MP, said talking about reconciliation meant going through a painful revisit of history and learning from them.
At the end of the day, she said, the core demand was still for systemic reform.
“Leaders come and go. If the systemic flaws are there, we will see one draconian leader or autocrat after another. There will be no change that can affect the lives of Malaysians.
“I think it is the reform agenda that’s superior. I don’t want to say that it only belongs to me. This is not an exclusive movement.
“We need more people to buy into the idea to care about Malaysia’s future and be guided by a straight path,” she said.
Izzah said one thing that was clear was that PH would not tolerate corruption.
“Even for the prime minister. I think if one day he suddenly decides to embrace the reform agenda and wants to hand over the corrupt thieves to the authorities, and of course return the money to Malaysians, I would say ‘Yes Sir, please do so.”
Izzah said PH needed a clear-cut consensus by the next general election, as this was perhaps the first time since independence that the opposition had a real chance to take over Putrajaya.
“That (opportunity) has to be seized by many people,” she said.