PETALING JAYA, Oct 5: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has signalled that he may contest in the next general election, saying his supporters do not want him to retire.
In an interview with The Straits Times of Singapore, Mahathir, 95, also said he cannot reconcile with Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, because his successor “has adopted the kind of strategy that Najib (Razak) had, undermining all those who are against him”.
He said his proposal not to stand in GE15 has caused unhappiness among his supporters.
“They still want me to say that I want to contest. It is true that most people at 95 would not be functional. I am more fortunate, I am still able to be active. But they don’t seem to think I will deteriorate when I grow older. They see me as I am now. So they want me, at least, not to say that I won’t contest,” he was quoted as saying.
On working with Muhyiddin, Mahathir said he cannot reconcile with him because the prime minister is engaged in the same politics that both of them had sought to reform when they defeated the Najib-led government in the last general election.
“How can I accept Muhyiddin like that?” he said, adding that the PPBM president was willing to work with Najib because “politics is more important than principles”.
However, ST said he conceded that he and the other opposition parties are not in a position to challenge Muhyiddin’s parliamentary majority as they are split on who should take over as prime minister.
“Anwar (Ibrahim) has a lot of people who are against him. If I am not accepted, many (of my supporters) will pull out so he will not have the majority. Now he claims he has the support of 20 to 30 MPs, but everybody has denied it,” he said.
Mahathir also said he does not favour a snap election, as he does not think either side would be able to secure a stronger mandate from it.
This is because the public is not yet ready to vote on substantive issues following the political turmoil of recent months, he said, and would make their choice “not because the party is good”, but based on historical sentiment.
“The same people will be elected and you will find that there will be a hung Parliament or a very small majority,” he said.
“Like now, if three persons have stomach ache and didn’t attend Parliament, they will fall. What kind of government is that?”
On Malaysia’s affirmative action policies that have largely benefited the Malay majority, Mahathir said they could be done away with if the country had stayed the course to become a developed nation with a narrow wealth gap by this year.
But, he said, endemic corruption has hampered progress towards developing the economy and attempts to redistribute wealth that began half a century ago under the New Economic Policy.
“If you reduce the disparity, the jealousy, the envy will be reduced. The country will be stable, then the country will grow,” he told ST in the interview carried out on Friday.
“When the difference in terms of wealth is not so big, it is all right. We can do away with that (affirmative action).”