Mahathir willing to be Malaysian PM for third time ‘if there’s a request’

While he said he hopes “there is no need” for his reappointment as prime minister, he said he would take the mantle again if asked to.

Zunaira Saieed

Zunaira Saieed

The Straits Times


Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad is contemplating returning as PM for the third time. PHOTO: REUTERS

October 19, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s two-time former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, 97, reiterated on Tuesday that he is ready to give premiership a third shot if called to do so after the next general election.

While he said he hopes “there is no need” for his reappointment as prime minister, he said he would take the mantle again if their coalition Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) and the people ask him to, according to news site New Straits Times.

Dr Mahathir said he would do it “as far as I am still functioning, still capable of moving and talking – besides negotiating – although I am older”.

“I still can work, and if there is a request, how am I supposed to turn it down?” he said, after chairing a meeting with Langkawi division leadership of Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.

Dr Mahathir said on Sept 24 at a GTA forum that he would reluctantly take on the premiership again “if the insistence were to be incessant” .

“However, it cannot be for the full term – maybe just for a year,” he said then, according to Malay Mail.

Dr Mahathir was the country’s longest-serving prime minister from 1981 to 2003. He also became the world’s oldest premier when he made a 22-month post-retirement comeback at the age of 92 in May 2018, under the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

He is set to defend his Langkawi parliamentary seat in the upcoming election with Pejuang, the party he co-founded in 2020 as an alternative to the scandal-ridden Umno.

Earlier this month, Mr Mahathir said that if he is forced to return, he would only stay for a “short while” to get the country back on track.

“Malaysia’s capacity to recover is there, but it requires careful management of the economy, government and the country in order to retrieve past abilities for the economy to recover and the political situation to become more stable,” he told CNBC in a TV interview on Oct 6.

“This would require me to be prime minister for more than one year. But I realise that I’m too old and many people feel that I shouldn’t be involved in politics at all, and they want me to retire.”

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