After being appointed PM candidate, Dr Mahathir thanks Anwar

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Pakatan Harapan picks Mahathir to be prime minister if it wins Malaysian election

SHAH ALAM After Dr Mahathir Mohamad was named opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan's choice for prime minister yesterday, he did something which showed just how unpredictable life, and for that measure politics, can be.

The former prime minister thanked his ex-deputy Anwar Ibrahim, saying he owed him a "debt of gratitude" for agreeing to work with him in the opposition coalition, the Malay Mail reported.

When he was the prime minister, Dr Mahathir sacked Anwar and then vilified him when he was thrown in jail on sodomy and corruption charges.

"I am aware how he must have felt. It was not easy for him to accept me. I owe him a debt of gratitude, and I say thank you to him," Dr Mahathir, 92, said.

According to unnamed sources quoted by news site The Malaysian Insight (TMI), Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), had set three conditions for Dr Mahathir to be named the coalition candidate for prime minister.

These were for Anwar to be given a pardon and made prime minister within a year of Pakatan winning the election, for PKR to be allocated the highest number of seats to contest the election and for Dr Mahathir to agree to institutional reforms.

Anwar, currently serving a five-year sentence for sodomy, is due to be released from prison on June 8, the Prisons Department director-general said on Sunday, barring any intervention from higher authorities.

He cannot run for political office for five years after his release unless he is pardoned by the King.

Pakatan's announcement comes after disagreement within the pact, chiefly from PKR over the candidate for the post, and criticism from ruling party Umno that the opposition was in disarray.

In a speech read out by his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar at the convention on Sunday, Anwar said that he would accept the decision of Pakatan's presidential council.

"I urge my friends to focus on the principles of the struggle we started a decade ago," Anwar said, as reported by TMI.

"In the spirit of cooperation and working together, we accept the decisions of the leadership."

In Sunday's announcement, Pakatan also named Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the opposition candidate for deputy prime minister. She is president of PKR.

Pakatan also announced parliamentary seat allocations for its component parties in the election.

PKR will contest the lion's share of seats - 51 of 165 seats in Peninsular Malaysia plus an undisclosed number of seats in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan, which have 57 parliamentary constituencies in total.

Of the seats in Peninsular Malaysia, Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi has been allocated 52 seats, DAP has 35 seats while Parti Amanah Negara has 27 seats.