DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has reiterated his support for Anwar Ibrahim and Shafie Apdal as candidates for prime minister in the event of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) return to power.
In an interview at his home here, he said the PKR and Warisan chiefs remained his firm favourites for the top post.
He claimed that PH’s members, including the MPs from parties in the coalition, were confident in the ability of either candidate to shore up support to form a government.
“We support Anwar to have the numbers, but if he can’t, we should give Shafie a chance and the due respect to a first East Malaysian PM,” he said.
Lim and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu came up with the Anwar-or-Shafie plan in July as a way of resolving an impasse between former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar. They said it could succeed only with the backing of all the MPs affiliated to PH.
Some PKR leaders disagreed with the plan, saying PH should stick to the plan made before the 2018 general election, which had Mahathir and Anwar as candidates.
Asked how it was like to work with Mahathir, Lim said the former PM was firm on issues he felt strongly about but was willing to listen to cabinet members.
“He gave everyone an opportunity to speak before he gave his opinion. Then the cabinet would decide. Of course, most of the time, he would persuade cabinet members to go along.”
“He had a strong personal anathema towards debt and its accumulation. He kept pressing us to cut down debts.
“We managed to cut down debt in terms of percentage of the GDP. But with the current Covid-19 situation, we have no choice but to increase debt because we are facing an economic crisis.
“Mahathir also felt we should encourage people to work and not give them freebies. But we said that we not only need to teach people to fish but also to feed them so they can become self-sufficient later.”
He also said Mahathir first shot down his idea of getting rid of highway tolls but eventually agreed on a gradual reduction over time, starting with the 18% cut on all PLUS highways.
Lim, who has been a DAP member since 1981, is currently serving his third and final term as the party’s secretary-general. He said he would willingly accept any new role DAP would give him.
He called DAP a party of integrity, noting that none of its 42 members elected to Parliament in 2018, unlike several MPs from Umno, PKR and other parties, had jumped ship to join what he called the “unelected government” of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said even Umno president Zahid Hamidi was impressed, telling him: “Your party is very stable. Not even one MP jumped.”