With Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad promising on several occasions that he will hand over power to Anwar Ibrahim, the focus is now on who will get the much coveted deputy Prime Minister’s role.
Dr Mahathir’s son has already made known his plans to step out of his shoes as Menteri Besar of Kedah to present himself as a valid alternative after his father leaves office.
This may mean he is willing to play the role of PM if he is called upon, but there is Anwar Ibrahim on the way to become PM and Mukhriz will have to wait for his turn.
However, his statement that there is no fixed time for his father to quit his post as PM has divided the Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the party of Anwar which is already under intense pressure following the publication of gay-sex videos allegedly involving a PKR member and minister in Dr Mahathir’s Cabinet.
Azmin Ali, the minister said to be in the sex video, has concurred with Mukhriz on the absence of a deal between Dr Mahathir and Anwar for the Prime Minister to leave office two years after he takes power.
One year and 2 months has gone since Dr Mahathir was reelected as Malaysian PM in May 2018, defeating the Umno and Barisan Nasional headed by ex-PM Najib Razak.
Mukhriz said in an interview to Nikkei Asian Review there were no definite date decided upon by party leaders denying the existence of a written agreement that says Dr Mahathir must hand over power to Anwar by next year.
But Anwar’s aid says Mukhriz statement is intended to target Anwar. Dr Mahathir’s son is yet to respond to the allegation and Anwar has also not reacted to the controversial statement from Mukhriz and the support the latter gained from Anwar’s own party vice president Azmin Ali.
Mukhriz’s missteps in national politics with the controversial statements to Nikkei might cut his newly found wings, and this will be to the detriment of Dr Mahathir but Anwar might offer an olive branch to Mukhriz in a bid to haste Dr Mahathir’s exit.
Waiting in the wings and playing the cards well is Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who was a deputy PM under Najib until he was cast away after he queried the former PM on the 1MDB scandal.
Muhyiddin joined Dr Mahathir to form the Berstau party. Mukhriz is a member of the Bersatu. Both may find that they are at logger heads in the bid to win the prize of becoming the country’s next deputy PM.
The Home Minister has a better chance, albeit his health conditions after he was diagnosed with cancer last year.