Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Mahathir to continue as Malaysia PM for 1-2 years

Mahathir to continue as Malaysia PM for 1-2 years

Mahathir was asked in an interview by video link whether a deal could be cut with Najib, who is alleged to have overseen the looting of government investment fund 1MDB.

Mr Anwar, who was formerly Dr Mahathir's political rival, has been promised leadership of Malaysia's new governing coalition when Dr Mahathir, 92, decides to step down.

"I will play a role in the background even when I step down".

The Prison Pardons Board is expected to convene at 11am on Wednesday, with Anwar's release expected soon after. The 70-year-old Anwar is still serving a five-year jail term after he was found guilty on a sodomy charge in 2015. He and his supporters have said the charges are politically motivated.

Anwar is seeking a royal pardon on the grounds of "miscarriage of justice", which would reverse his conviction and make him eligible to actively participate in politics. He had been in hospital recovering from shoulder surgery.

Mahathir expects Anwar to be pardoned on Wednesday, but said his former enemy will not yet become prime minister and instead will serve in the parliament.

"The first question I am taking is from TV3", he joked, alluding to the fact that the TV station had carried a lot of negative stories about him and other Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders in the past before the pact took over Putrajaya.

Officials in Anwar's political party said he was headed to an audience with Malaysia's king and was expected to address the public in the afternoon followed by a political rally in the evening.

He said no final decision had been made on a Cabinet position.

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"I'm not in a rush", Anwar was quoted as saying.

Auditor General Madinah Mohamad verified the authenticity of the report seen by Reuters.

Mahathir has named just three ministers so far in addition to himself and Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, as deputy prime minister.

"I always believed in the wisdom of the people and that if we fought hard enough we would eventually prevail", he told Fairfax Media. Yet rather than give up, Anwar worked from his prison cell to forge a new opposition alliance by ending the two-decade feud with Mahathir - a gamble that paid off when the alliance won the 9 May polls.

Anwar's political triumphs and legal tribulations have riveted and appalled Malaysians since the 1990s, when he soared to national power as a talented deputy prime minister but then fell spectacularly, only to rise from the ashes in the opposition. Mahathir sacked and jailed Anwar on charges of sodomy and corruption.

Anwar and Mahathir agreed in 2016 to join forces with the aim of ousting scandal-hit Najib Razak and his Barisan Nasional (BN) alliance.

The scandal is being investigated in at least six countries, including Singapore, Switzerland and the United States.

Separately, federal prosecutors in Switzerland are seeking quick talks with Malaysian counterparts on how to press forward with an investigation of 1MDB, the Swiss attorney-general's office added.

The US Department of Justice has said that more than $4.5bn was misappropriated from the fund. nearly $700 million appeared in Mr Najib's bank accounts before the 2013 election. Mahathir has ordered him barred from leaving the country.

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