Doha: Malaysia’s 94-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad again raised the prospect on Saturday that he could stay in office beyond 2020, declining to give a definitive pledge to step down.
Mahathir returned to power last year after dealing a historic election defeat to the corruption-plagued coalition that he once led and which had been in power for six decades.
Mahathir led Malaysia for more than two decades before his retirement in 2003 which paved the way for the leadership of now disgraced former prime minister Najib Razak.
“We had a vision to become a fully developed country by 2020. Unfortunately, after I stepped down, the leadership took a different course, different policies. And that caused the target not to be achieved in 2020,” Mahathir said at the Doha Forum event in the Qatari capital.
“What we have settled for is we will still try, but we have moved the accomplishment date to between 2025 and 2030.
“I have promised that I would step down once I have resolved some of the major problems that have been left by the previous government. I promised that I will step down if a leadership candidate has been named by the coalition.”
Anwar Ibrahim, seen as the likely successor to Mahathir, has previously said that he expects to take office by May 2020, but Mahathir has publicly contradicted him several times.
And on Thursday, Anwar was questioned by police over allegations he sexually assaulted a male former aide, the latest such scandal to hit his career.