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Ibrahim Ali's role before Anwar was sacked, according to Mahathir

The former prime minister responds to the outspoken politician's version of what transpired.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
2 minute read
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left) with Putra president Ibrahim Ali. Photo: Bernama
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left) with Putra president Ibrahim Ali. Photo: Bernama

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he cannot remember Ibrahim Ali acting as a middleman between him and Anwar before the sacking of his one-time protege from government in 1998, even as a clip of a speech by the outspoken politician detailing his recollection of the events continues making the rounds on social media. 

What he does remember, even 25 years later, is the atmosphere of the night of the Umno Supreme Council meeting where he revealed the allegations of immorality against his deputy and gave him the opportunity to defend himself before the party leaders. 

Speaking in an exclusive interview with MalaysiaNow, Mahathir said Ibrahim, a former Kelantan Umno strongman, had been the first to rebuff Anwar. 

Recalling the events of that night, he said Ibrahim refused to accept what he had revealed. 

"He slammed the table," he added. "He was truly angry with Anwar.

"That is what I remember. What he says about being a middleman, I do not recall. Perhaps he did." 

Ibrahim and Anwar had been close during their involvement in the student protests of the 1970s, which resulted in two years for both under the Internal Security Act at the Kamunting detention centre.

The clip of Ibrahim's speech, widely circulated on WhatsApp as well as TikTok, shows him giving his version of behind-the-scenes incidents which took place before Anwar's dismissal.

In the nine-minute clip, he spoke of a meeting with Mahathir at a horse-riding club in Kuala Lumpur six months before Anwar's sacking on Sept 2, 1998.

"I said, why is Dato (Mahathir) asking me? (He replied) You have known him a long time, and you were in Kamunting for two years," Ibrahim said in the undated clip, believed to have been recorded in 2012 at an event organised by Tolak Individu Bernama Anwar Ibrahim, an NGO which rejected Anwar's political struggle.

He also claimed to have met with Mahathir at his official residence in Kuala Lumpur, where he said he broke down and hugged him, pleading with the prime minister to "give Anwar another chance".

When asked about this visit, Mahathir said he had no recollection of it. 

"That, I do not remember. And him defending Anwar, I do not remember."