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Mahathir defends his treatment of Anwar in 1998

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's former Prime Minister-turned-opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad has defended his treatment of his one-time deputy Anwar Ibrahim in 1998.

Responding to a question on Facebook live on whether he had any regrets about the treatment of Anwar, Dr Mahathir said yesterday he was merely "responding to the situation at hand".

Anwar was once a protege of Dr Mahathir and the rising star of Malaysian politics, but they fell out in the late 1990s.

Then the Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar was fired from the Cabinet in 1998, tried for corruption and sodomy and thrown in jail for the first time.

The sodomy verdict was overturned in 2004, when Dr Mahathir's successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was holding the premiership.

Anwar, who has been convicted of another sodomy offence and is now in jail, has become de facto leader of the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH), while Dr Mahathir is its chairman.

The PH alliance is made up of Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Amanah, a group of rebels that splintered from Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) after the latter parted ways with its former opposition colleagues in 2015.

"Now, it is different," Dr Mahathir said in yesterday's interview with Thai journalist and Nation Multimedia Group chairman Suthichai Yoon.

"If we keep on raking up the past, you can never work with anybody. You will always be fighting against your enemies... I'm not angry over the past, he is not angry over the past also," said Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir also exonerated his former "enemy" Lim Kit Siang, claiming that the DAP adviser was "not as bad" as he had made him out to be in the past. - THE STAR

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