Lame-duck PM: Yet another Dr Mahathir ‘excuse’?


COMMENT Anwar Ibrahim has been at his best behaviour of late. I believe we can all see that. This is the new Anwar, not the rabble-rouser of the past.

He has been nice, courteous and civil towards Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as he rightly should be. Surely we do not want to see Anwar and Mahathir throwing punches at each other every day, do we?

I believe like any good husband, Anwar must be listening more attentively to Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail now than before.

When your wife is the deputy prime minister, you better sit up and pay attention.

As DPM, Wan Azizah probably meets Mahathir more regularly than Anwar and should understand the old man better now. Over time, working together, there must be better mutual understanding and appreciation of, and respect for each other.

It is also possible that Mahathir could have shared more of his thoughts with Wan Azizah than with Anwar these days. So, it pays for Anwar to take his good wife’s advice.

If Wan Azizah (above) has somewhat tamed Anwar, her politician husband with a rebellious and impatient streak, I say kudos to the good wife.

Anwar was particularly nice and respectful of Mahathir again when he explained why the prime minister could not put a specific date on when to hand over power.

“This is what he told me and I appreciate it. He said, ‘Anwar, I have promised and I would keep my word. But don’t be like this – force me, make me announce the date because I would become a lame-duck prime minister’,” Anwar said during a question and answer session in Kuala Lumpur.

So Mahathir has come up with the ‘lame-duck PM’ reason – or is this yet another of his many excuses?

This is my take on the matter. The ‘lame-duck prime minister’ does not hold in this case. The whole world knows that Mahathir would hold the fort for two years going into GE14.

This is not a lame-duck post. It was a unique understanding among Pakatan Harapan leaders. Mahathir was supposed to be the interim prime minister.

‘Interim’ means a provisional period and that period, understood by all, is two years. This means May 9, 2018, to May 9, 2020. The question of lame-duck prime minister should not arise here.

Dear Dr Mahathir, you have to keep to the provisional period and when that time is up, you just pack your bags and leave a proud man with your head held high. And perhaps with your legacy intact, too.

As it is now, the growing voices of discontent against your dilly-dallying over the transition date could turn out to be much worse. Like many Malaysians, I would want to remember and honour you as a revered statesman.

Many of us expected Mahathir to come up with this lame-duck issue and we were on the dot. We cannot buy this, not this time.

If Mahathir thinks that having an interim PM will make the PM a lame duck, why didn’t he bring the matter up with Harapan leaders before GE14? Why did he keep quiet then?

Is this another case of here we go again – “Oh, we didn’t expect to win the elections.”

If our prime minister has to be reminded, here is what the Straits Times of Singapore reported on Feb 4, 2018:

Former Malaysian prime minister and now opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad says he will be prime minister for two years should Pakatan Harapan win the 14th general election.

“I can’t stay for very long. At the most, I can last for two years,” said Dr Mahathir.

I hope our dear prime minister is able to recall what he said and not swallow his own words.

PKR founder Syed Husin Ali (above) said in a statement that “Anwar’s head will roll if he stands up to Mahathir” has certainly stirred the already muddy Harapan waters and made it murkier. It is food for thought and should wake up many who are still stupidly basking in the glory of GE14.

“I know it is difficult for him because if he does that, Mahathir will immediately kill him politically,” Syed Husin said in an interview with Malaysiakini.

As a Harapan insider, Syed Husin should have intimate knowledge of what goes on within the coalition.

Most of us who are not politicians would not want to know too much of the intrigues and shenanigans within Harapan.

It is not that we don’t care, but we have enough of the same old politicking and the lust for wealth, power and position within Harapan. Most politicians, whether from BN or Harapan, are the same. They can never change.

We also take serious note of Syed Husin’s allegations of power abuse and intense corruption in the government today.

What we want to tell Harapan is this: when GE15 comes along, we know what to do with our votes.

Meantime, to dear Dr Mahathir, what about stepping down on 20.2.20?

‘2’ and ‘0’, as your Vision 2020 tells us, must be your preferred numbers, aren’t they?

You can be assured that no one will consider you a lame-duck if you nail a date on when you wish to step down.

  • Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at

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