PUTRAJAYA – Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday (Feb 18) that he does not know if the date of Malaysia’s most anticipated power transition will be fixed at the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council meeting on Friday (Feb 21).
But he reiterated that he will step down as premier as he had promised, but will do so only after Malaysia hosts November’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.
“I don’t know (if the date issue will be raised). I have said that I am prepared to resign anytime when asked.
“But my promise to resign remain, and whatever decision made (by the presidential council), I will only resign after Apec,” he said to reporters here.
Asked if he would raise the issue himself, Tun Dr Mahathir, 94, said he would not.
“I’m going to be the chair,” he said.
The PH presidential council, comprising the most senior leaders of the four component parties of PH, is meeting on Friday to resolve the thorny issue of when Dr Mahathir would be passing on the prime ministership to MP Anwar Ibrahim, 72.
PH leaders had agreed before the May 2018 general election that should the four-party coalition grabbed power, Dr Mahathir would pass the premiership to Datuk Seri Anwar, who was then in jail.
The exact date of the handover was not discussed, with followers of Mr Anwar agitating for Dr Mahathir to step down in May this year – two years after PH came to power.
Last week, Mr Anwar said Dr Mahathir told him at a meeting between the two leaders that he would relinquish his position as promised.
Mr Anwar, who is president of PH’s biggest organisation Parti Keadilan Rakyat also said that the power transition would be decided in the PH presidential council meeting on Friday.
The tensions caused in PH by the question over the transition has allowed opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia to band together to say that they would like Dr Mahathir to soldier on as prime minister until the next general election, which is due in 2023.