One year before an initially scheduled handover to PKR head Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has indicated he may hold on to the premiership for a year longer than agreed.
Previously, the Pakatan Harapan coalition had agreed for Mahathir to pass on the role to Anwar after two years in office, if they won GE14.
PKR, or the People’s Justice Party, is one of four political parties that forms the Pakatan Harapan coalition, of which Mahathir is chairman and Anwar is leader.
When asked about his plans to stay in office, he confirmed in an interview that he would not stay “beyond three years” in the PM post.
With a return to office in 2018, this puts his latest projected handover date as 2021 – a year later than the initially agreed 2020.
CNBC quoted Mahathir as saying that he would step down even if he does not manage to reduce Malaysia’s national debt from 80 per cent of its GDP to 54 per cent – a goal the premier previously predicted would take three years to achieve.
Mahathir’s new three-year timeline matches comments made by Anwar in February this year claiming that he expected to take power from Mahathir in less than two years’ time.
Anwar said that his former mentor should be given space to govern effectively in “very difficult and trying times”, but that Mahathir had “made it very clear” he would not exceed two more years in power.