PUTRAJAYA – To the amusement of Pakatan Harapan leaders, PH chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad put up his fists in readiness for a mock battle with PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, after accusing the media of wanting to provoke a battle between them.
Reporters and politicians grinned at the prime minister’s reaction after the media had asked him a question about cronyism, then had immediately turned to Anwar, sitting next to him.
Anwar said he shared Mahathir’s views on the matter.
Mahathir then threw mock punches at Anwar, asking reporters if they wanted them to fight.
“You want me to fight? Ok lah, we fight lah,” he said, to laughter all around.
Anwar has been touted as the PH choice to succeed Mahathir as prime minister. However the question of when the handover will take place has remained in dispute.
Mahathir’s reaction of mock fisticuffs came after a question had been raised about cronyism and the appointment of the wife of his aide to head a government-linked organisation.
On cronyism, political appointments and rewarding party faithful
He said he found it “very disappointing” that people who had worked hard for their party could not be chosen for high positions because of a pledge in the PH election manifesto.
He defended the appointment of Junaidah Kiting, wife of his political secretary, as head of Malaysia’s largest microcredit organisation, Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia, in January.
Mahathir said people associated with PH could still be chosen to similar high positions if they had the required merit and skills.
“This is a problem that we face. We are not supposed to give any position to anyone who has worked hard for the party’s success. On the contrary, those who get to enjoy high positions are individuals who have never helped the party,” he said.
However, he said that sometimes, people with “some association” with the party would still be chosen if qualified. “And we will continue to do the same if we find that there are people who have a relationship with the party, who has worked hard with the party, but also has the skills to be successful in the position,” he said.