KUALA LUMPUR — Former Malaysian premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad has revealed that he has not and will not apologise to his former protege-turned-enemy and now ally, incarcerated opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim.
In an interview with Australian broadcast agency SBS World News, Dr Mahathir said this is because he has never asked his detractors to apologise for criticising him.
“We have all said nasty things about each other. I don’t ask people to apologise for calling me all kinds of names and accusing me of all kinds of wrongdoings.
“What happened is in the past and we can’t be apologising for something that happened in the past,” he was quoted as saying.
Anwar was Dr Mahathir’s deputy until they had a falling out in 1998, an event which sparked protests by Anwar supporters calling for political reform in the country.
He was imprisoned on charges of corruption and sodomy shortly after, though Anwar claimed he was innocent and that the charges were politically-motivated.
The former Umno man was released from prison in 2004 and went on to lead the opposition coalition, but was jailed again in 2015 on separate sodomy charges and is currently behind bars serving a five-year sentence.
Last September, the two nemeses met face-to-face, under friendly circumstances, for the first time in 18 years — but the reunion has been described as a political ploy which “demonstrates the depth of their political opportunism and desperation”.
Aside from Anwar, Dr Mahathir has also showed support for the DAP and its advisor, Mr Lim Kit Siang, who has been one of the former premier’s harshest critics for decades.
When asked who will be named prime minister should Pakatan Harapan win the upcoming 14th general election, Dr Mahathir responded by saying “party infighting” has prevented the opposition pact from uniting and discussing the issue.
“It is divisive. The moment you name a (candidate for) prime minister, there is going to be a lot of unsatisfied people who may sabotage the new opposition coalition,” Dr Mahathir said.
“So it is better for us to name a prime minister (once) we win. It becomes irrelevant to name a prime minister now and then we lose,” he added.
It is believed that Dr Mahathir was referring to Anwar’s party, PKR, which recently lost an ally, Pas, which ended its “tahaluf siyasi”, or political cooperation.
Pas’ Syura Council decided that the move was necessary in order to defend the party’s Islamic agenda, aside from accusing PKR of breaking many terms of its conditional cooperation, including failing to support Pas in its Islamic agenda, and working against it in two by-elections last year.