Malaysia's Mahathir Mulls Risks, Rewards of Postponed Power Transfer
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad appears unlikely to surrender his leadership as promised to government coalition partner Anwar Ibrahim.
Mahathir was returned to office in elections in 2018. Several times since he has again said he would serve only one to two years before passing power to Anwar.
That idea raised fears that there may be a dispute over the office that could divide the coalition and cost it the next election.
Longtime politicians, Mahathir and Anwar fought in the late 1990s. They rejoined to defeat the country's long-ruling and corrupt Barisan Nasional coalition in May 2018. The two men promised to clean up the government, decrease living costs and support minority rights. Ninety-four year old Mahathir also promised to give Anwar the office after two years.
But Mahathir, who was Prime Minister for 22 years until 2003, seems to be enjoying his second time in office. It appears he may have changed his mind about leaving the position.
In an interview with Reuters last month, he said again he would give his office to Anwar. However, at a meeting in Doha a few days later, he said he would not commit to Anwar. He added he would think about giving up his office only after he chairs the next meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in November.
Anwar has so far accepted all Mahathir's statements. He says the change will happen at the right time. But there are fears that a refusal by Mahathir could split their coalition, the Pakatan Harapan, said Ben Bland. He is the director of the Southeast Asia Project at Australia's Lowy Institute.
"They end up attacking each other...damaging their prospects at the next election," he told VOA.
No one is surprised by the unpredictability of the situation. Many thought Anwar would replace Mahathir in the 1990s, when the younger man served as finance minister, but they fought. Anwar was removed from office in 1998. He was found guilty of sex crimes in 1998, which he denies, saying the case against him was brought for political reasons. Anwar spent the next six years in jail.
'No normal relationship of trust'
Their more recent effort to join forces against their enemy, the Barisan Nasional coalition, was successful.
However, "it's clear they still don't have a normal relationship of trust," Bland said. He added that many in the coalition believe that only Anwar has the political strength to lead Pakatan Harapan to a second victory.
Some experts say Mahathir also fears the loss of importance after he announces he is leaving.
An announcement at APEC, maybe?
Some say the APEC summit would make a strong goodbye for a man who has always cared deeply about his international importance.
"I think APEC is important for him... that is one way for him to cement his foreign policy legacy...he's going to be the only leader to chair APEC twice," said Adib Zalkapli. He is the head of the consulting firm Bower Group Asia.
As much as Mahathir and his allies may still not trust Anwar, Zalkapli believes that Mahathir knows that a handover must come and that Anwar will need two years as prime minister before the next election, due by mid-2023.
Wong Chin Huat is a political scientist and professor at Malaysia's Sunway University. He says that Mahathir does really want Anwar to become prime minister, but the longer Anwar waits, the weaker he looks.
"If Anwar is not strong, it makes the case for Mahathir to stay a bit longer," he said.
I'm Susan Shand.
1.prime minister 总理；首相
The prime minister and the moderates are not yet home and dry.
2.normal relationship 正常关系
Whatever your feelings, this was not about love and a normal relationship.
3.foreign policy 外交政策
There's always a lack of consistency in matters of foreign policy.
4.clean up 清除
Nina and Mary were in the kitchen, cleaning up after dinner.
5."If Anwar is not strong, it makes the case for Mahathir to stay a bit longer," he said.
a bit longer 久一点；长一点
I want to be with you a bit longer.
I would like to stay in Britain a bit longer, but I will need to extend my visa.
6."They end up attacking each other...damaging their prospects at the next election," he told VOA.
end up doing 以...告终
If you hang around with colleagues all the time you just end up talking shop.
If you always give in to others you will end up feeling like a doormat.
马来西亚总理马哈蒂尔·穆罕默德(Mahathir Mohamad)似乎不太可能像他向执政联盟伙伴安瓦尔·易卜拉欣(Anwar Ibrahim)承诺的那样移交领导权 。
马哈蒂尔在2018年的选举中再次当选 。他曾多番表示在执政一、两年后会移权给安瓦尔 。
长期从政的马哈蒂尔和安瓦尔在上世纪90年代末曾经是对手 。他们于2018年5月重新结盟，击败了该国长期执政和腐败的国民阵线(Barisan Nasional)联盟 。两人承诺整顿政府，降低生活成本，支持少数族裔的权利 。现年94岁的马哈蒂尔还承诺，两年后将把总理之位移交安瓦尔 。
但是马哈蒂尔在2003年之前担任了22年的总理，似乎正在享受他的第二次任期 。看来他已经改变主意，不再考虑退位了 。
上个月接受路透社采访时，他再次表示将把职位移交给安瓦尔 。然而，数日吼在多哈的一次会议上，他表示不会对安瓦尔做出承诺 。他补充说，只有在11月主持下一届亚太经合组织(APEC)会议之后，他才会考虑辞职 。
到目前为止，安瓦尔已经接受了马哈蒂尔的所有声明 。他说，这种变动将在适当的时候发生 。但有人担心，马哈蒂尔拒绝让位或分裂他们的希望联盟(the Pakatan Harapan)，本·布兰德说道 。他是澳大利亚洛伊研究所(Lowy Institute)东南亚项目的负责人 。
所有人对不可预测性的形势已经见怪不怪了 。上世纪90年代，年轻的马哈蒂尔担任财政部长时，许多人认为安瓦尔将取代马哈蒂尔，但他们成为了政敌 。安瓦尔于1998年被免职 。1998年，安瓦尔被判性犯罪，但他否认了这一指控，称对他的指控是出于政治原因 。安瓦尔在监狱里服刑六年 。
他们最近联合起来对抗对手国阵联盟(the Barisan Nasional coalition)的努力是成功的 。
然而，“很明显，他们仍然没有建立正常的信任关系，”布兰德说道 。他补充说，联合政府中的许多人认为，只有安瓦尔才有足够的政治力量带领希望联盟取得第二次胜利 。
阿迪布(Adib Zalkapli)表示，“我认为APEC对他来说很重要……这是他巩固其外交政策遗产的一种方式 。他将是唯一一位两次主持APEC会议的领导人 。”阿迪布是咨询公司Bower Group Asia的负责人 。
Wong Chin Huat是马来西亚神威大学的政治学家和教授 。他说，马哈蒂尔确实希望安瓦尔成为总理，但安瓦尔待位时间越长，马哈蒂尔就越力不从心 。