Can Mahathir be trusted to keep his word that he would eventually step down when the time comes
Now that Anwar Ibrahim is a free man, the burning question is: When will Anwar be the next prime minister, replacing Dr Mahathir Mohamad?
Though he has to go through the process of first becoming a member of parliament, Anwar has reiterated that he is in no rush take over although his party PKR holds the most number of seats at federal level.
The agreement and consensus made within Pakatan Harapan is that Mahathir will be PM when they take over Putrajaya, and that is being honoured according to Anwar when he addressed his first meet-the-rakyat session after his freedom from prison at Petaling Jaya.
On the other hand, Mahathir has said that he will pass the baton to Anwar after two years for he needs the time to clean the mess that he has made in the past – and that includes for having pushed Najib up the ladder after Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was removed in 2009.
So far all looks pristine and fine to the naked eye. But is that the reality on the ground?
Can Mahathir be trusted to keep his word that he would eventually step down when the time comes.
If there was already a consensus in Pakatan on Mahathir's position, then was it necessary for Daim Zainuddin (a member of the elders council) to make a statement that "It will be foolish for anybody to change (prime ministers now)"?
Was that reminder an extension of Mahathir's fear that there will be a ground movement in Pakatan to pressure him to relinquish his position as soon as Anwar becomes an MP?
Daim is a close confidant of Mahathir and that is public knowledge. For him to say that openly, it can only be construed as that coming with the explicit consent of Mahathir himself.
Daim made that statement a day before Anwar walked out of prison. Was it made to preempt the possibility of his supporters rallying the people at large to expedite Anwar's move into office?
Keep in mind that PPBM, which Mahathir leads, has only 13 parliamentary seats whereas PKR, DAP and Amanah combined have 100 seats.
Despite the seat lead, the Pakatan pack, which has now been formally registered by the Registrar of Societies, has Mahathir as the chairman.
Though the composition is different on many fronts, the structure is quite similar to what Barisan Nasional had practised – where upon the pact's chairman assumes the premiership.
Mahathir by virtue of having the pact registered formally has indeed solidified his position as the chairman and the prime minister. Dislodging him from either position will now be more intricate.
As in the past, he is known to be a person that believes everybody around him must be subservient to him and his intelligence.
Indeed he has brought back that ideology a notch higher by appointing himself now as the Education Minister, citing that there "are many uneducated in the country."
Is Pakatan that void of a truly educated person to be appointed as the education minister? His justification for taking on the role as education minister is nothing short of undermining the capabilities of the other Pakatan leaders from PKR, Amanah and DAP.
We can see that the "Mahathir" that he was has not really changed much. Everything seems to be decided by him and claims that all decisions are made collectively with the other parties do not seem to be the perception at this moment.
He now has complete control over things and even if Anwar wanted to come forward, it would be only possible if and when Mahathir allows or consents in the future.
Early signs are already indicative of Mahathir indirectly asking Anwar to toe the line or else anything is possible.
The delay in Anwar becoming PM will give more time to Mahathir to also strengthen his PPBM not only in numbers but also to give more political leveraging to Muhyiddin Yassin and his son Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir.
In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies. What is unfolding before all Malaysians and the world could take drastic turns in the near future.
The probability of a power struggle among Pakatan government leaders, especially between PPBM and PKR, cannot be ruled out and ignored.
It may be such fated that Anwar may never be the prime minister of Malaysia.