Malaysia’s political transition: Mahathir to Anwar 2.0

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at a conference in London
The world’s oldest prime minister, Malaysia’s 93-year-old Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, clearly enjoys being back in the saddle. But the question is: for how long? (source: dpa)
  • Malaysia’s new prime minister made a deal to step down in two years “more or less”
  • There is good reason to believe the once-autocratic Dr. Mahathir will keep this promise
  • After his designated successor, Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia needs a new generation of leaders

While in Brunei on September 2, 2018, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad spoke to a gathering of Malaysians working or residing in the Sultanate. During question time, he was asked − for the umpteenth time since becoming prime minister on May 10 − about his plan for political succession. Repeating his stock reply, Dr. Mahathir (who gave up a medical practice for politics in the 1960s) was reported by the Malaysian news agency Bernama as saying he would be the “interim prime minister with the time frame mentioned as two years” before handing over to Anwar Ibrahim. “I am confident that he is now more mature and much experienced,” the prime minister added, as if there were any doubt in anyone’s mind that Mr. Anwar was more than capable of taking over.

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