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Dr Mahathir will keep his word to be temporary PM

This article is more than 12 months old

He says shortened term was price needed to removeNajib Razak from office

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that he will keep to his promise of being prime minister on a temporary basis, despite calls made for him to keep the post until the next general election.

He said: "There is a plea for this old PM to continue (the whole tenure). When we were the opposition, and we wanted to get rid of the kleptocrats, we knew we could not do it with only the Malay votes."

He told his party that his shortened term was the price of the cohesion needed to removeNajib Razak from office, the Malay Mail reported.

He said his agreement to cede the position to Mr Anwar Ibrahim after two years was a precondition to the successful formation of the coalition Pakatan Harapan.

"Without other parties, we would not succeed.

"We only won because we had a coalition and to have this coalition, we discussed with our partners (Democratic Action Party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Amanah) and one of the conditions then was that the PM who was their enemy can only be temporary."

He said this to about 2,000 delegates as he wound up the second annual general assembly of his party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) yesterday, The Star reported.

Speaking to reporters, Dr Mahathir said he would not renege on his promise to remain as prime minister for two years, reported New Straits Times.

"Different people have their opinions. But (I) have to keep my promise," he said.

The call for Dr Mahathir, 93, to stay on until the next election came up often in the assembly debate sessions.

It is understood that the proposal was first tabled by Kelantan delegate Zulkifli Zakaria, who is also Bachok Bersatu division chief during the debate on the chairman's policy speech, reported New Straits Times.

A source, who is also a member of the party's supreme leadership council, had disclosed that several delegates had made the proposal.

Earlier, party deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir, who is Dr Mahathir's son, said the Prime Minister should clean up the government before handing it over to his successor, Mr Anwar Ibrahim.

"There are many suggestions that were raised, even though Dr Mahathir himself stressed that this depends on the opinions of the partners in Pakatan Harapan and the rakyat themselves."

Mr Mukhriz added that he believes the motion may be a good one, as the inherited government machinery requires time to be restored.

In a separate development Dr Mahathir, in his speech, at the closing of the assembly warned others not to "touch" Bersatu.

"The red of Bersatu, let it be a warning message, don't touch us, or you will perish. Bersatu is not for us, it is for the Malays and the Bumiputera," Dr Mahathir said.

He said it was not the way of the Malays to deny other races their rights, but Malays also did not like to be denied of their rights, reported New Straits Times.