If Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad does not commit to a timeline for the transition of power to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim by early next year, a retirement date may be imposed on the former.

PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli, one of those responsible for drafting the transition pact between Mahathir and Anwar, said Pakatan Harapan may be forced to do so as the rakyat would have lost their patience over the issue by then.

“If (Mahathir) relinquishes willingly, the transition will be very smooth,” said Rafizi, who is seen to be aligned to Anwar.

He said this in a conference at the Iseas–Yusof Ishak Institute’s annual regional outlook forum in Singapore today as reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

The succession issue, he said, would ultimately be decided by the Harapan presidential council, which Mahathir and Anwar are both part of.

Rafizi said he was among those responsible for drafting the original transition pact signed on Jan 7, 2018, before the 14th general election.

As such, he said the agreement did not include a handover date, but it was due to Mahathir, who had alluded to a two-year timeline which caused many to believe he would hand over the reins to Anwar by May 2020.

Since then, Mahathir had said there is no definite timeline for the handover though he repeatedly said he was committed to honouring the agreement.

Most recently, Mahathir had said he would only step down after the final leaders’ meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum hosted in Malaysia in November this year.

Rafizi today said he did not believe any party would make a “bold attempt” to force a succession this year as politicians’ instinctively do not want to rock the boat.

In dismissing those who believe Anwar’s position as the future prime minister was not certain, Rafizi said Anwar has the support of a vast majority of elected representatives from PKR as well as DAP.

PKR and DAP together control a total of 92 of 222 parliamentary seats, which is only 20 seats short of the 112 seats needed to have a simple majority. MKINI

Rafizi sees Anwar as PM in 2021, with enough time to win GE15

PETALING JAYA: PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli believes Anwar Ibrahim will become prime minister in the first half of 2021 and that there will still be enough time for him to turn things around for the Pakatan Harapan-led government.

In a speech at the Regional Outlook Forum 2020 in Singapore, Rafizi said it was unlikely that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad would hand over the reins to Anwar before 2021 as the 94-year-old had said he would only do so after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit which Malaysia is hosting in November.

The former Pandan MP said a change of prime minister could only be decided if the PH presidential council pushed for a transition date or if there was a vote of no confidence against Mahathir.

However, he said neither was likely to happen given PH’s low approval rating among the people and despite Anwar commanding the support of most PKR and DAP MPs, who account for 92 of the 111 MPs needed to form a minority government.

Though there were “renegade” MPs from these two parties, Rafizi said their number would not exceed five.

“I doubt many MPs, more so the leadership (of PH parties), will want to rock the boat,” he said, adding that a vote of no confidence by PH against its own PM could lead to the coalition’s collapse.

“So while the numbers are there, it is as good as being quite useless where the transition is concerned.”

He also said he did not think Mahathir would drag the transition process until after the Najib Razak and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi corruption trials.

Some people, he said, believed Mahathir should remain as prime minister until Najib and Zahid were found guilty and “go to prison” as this would leave a power vacuum that would enable a realignment between PPBM and Umno.

This, he said, was “difficult to pull off” given Mahathir’s advanced age and the government’s perceived lacklustre performance.

So, he said his gut feeling was that Anwar would take over from Mahathir in the first half of 2021, because if there was no definitive answer after Apec, the PH grassroots and people would lose their patience.

“This will be the turning point with the four parties imposing a date on Mahathir.”

Rafizi said even if Anwar took over from Mahathir in 2021, he would still have enough time to turn things around and it would not become a foregone conclusion that PH would be a one-term government.

While Umno and PAS were expected to continue playing up the race card, Rafizi said he believed the next general election (GE15) would still be decided by the state of the economy.

He said the government had always been formed by parties which won in Peninsular Malaysia, with its 165 parliamentary seats.

Of this 165, Rafizi said, some 40 non-Malay majority seats would be won by PKR or DAP, while 70 Malay-majority seats, with over 70% Malay voters, would be won by Umno or PAS.

“So the battle for the government of Malaysia is usually decided by some 50 mixed, semi-urban seats,” he said, adding that PH’s victory in GE14 was because they won 40 such seats.

The voters in these seats, he said, regardless of race, were most affected by bread-and-butter issues.

Anwar, he said, could turn things around if he could put together a credible economic team and deliver on this front within two years.

“What I’m not sure of is whether Anwar will be radical enough to put aside all the lobbying and vested interests to get credible and professional Cabinet members who can convince the public that things can be better.”

He said if Anwar could do this, and improve on unemployment and low wages, he could still turn public sentiment towards PH and win in the mixed seats. FREE MALAYSIA TODAY