Tun Mahathir : I Was Convinced That Anwar Was Not Qualified To Lead The Country – His Character Does Not Qualify Him to Become PM

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has attacked his sacked deputy as immoral and accused him of courting arrest to become a political martyr.

Anwar Ibrahim was stripped of his posts of deputy and finance minister last week on allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to leaking state secrets.

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Mahathir’s former protege has denied the charges, saying they were crafted by the government to undermine his reform challenge to Mahathir’s 17-year rule.

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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has stepped up verbal attacks against his former protege Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar was sacked last week as both Finance Minster and Deputy Prime Minster.

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Mahathir said Anwar was dumped from his posts and expelled from the ruling party on moral grounds – and not for allegations of selling state secrets or differences over monetary policy.

SOUNDBITE: (English)

“And I was convinced and I consider that he was not qualified to lead the country not because of his differences with me over politics or over economic practice but because his character does not qualify him to become leader of a country like Malaysia.”

SUPER CAPTION: Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia

Mahathir said he had conducted his own probe into the sexual misconduct allegations after he learned of the police investigation.

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With plenty of enemies, asked Mahathir, why would I do this to a friend?

SOUNDBITE: (English)

“What I say is based on facts. I don’t do this to a person who has literally been brought up by me to succeed me — my friend, why should I do it to him? I have lots of enemies, I would like to do that with my enemies, but I don’t choose my friend and I don’t choose an accusation that is so difficult to explain that’s so difficult for people to accept.”
SUPER CAPTION: Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia

Anwar responded to Mahathir’s comments with anger.

Since the sackings, Anwar has been giving nightly speeches at his home, declaring his innocence.

He has also pledged to go on a campaign to push for press freedoms and
transparency within the government – reportedly infuriating the 72-year-old Mahathir.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“I was thinking of retiring this year, I went off last year in 1997 to give him a chance to lead the country and .. but for this economic problem I would have stepped down. Unfortunately I think I need to stay back to lend some of my experience towards the resolution of this problem.”
SUPER CAPTION: Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia

He insisted no mistakes had been made over Anwar.

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SOUNDBITE: (English)
“I’m satisfied with the way I have handled it because I have given him every chance to resign so that these matters do not come to this stage but he preferred to fight and he maintains that he is innocent so now he has to prove his innocence.”

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SUPER CAPTION: Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia

Mahathir said Anwar’s calls for a reform movement were a diversion against the investigation.

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He said there was “not a hope” that Anwar could be rehabilitated.

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