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No world leader ever pointed his finger at me, says Mahathir

The former prime minister responds to a scene in 'Anwar: The Untold Story' and gives his views on the current government led by Anwar Ibrahim.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
3 minute read
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an interview with MalaysiaNow in Putrajaya.
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an interview with MalaysiaNow in Putrajaya.

In the recently released film, "Anwar: The Untold Story", the actor playing Anwar Ibrahim points his finger at a character meant to portray his one-time mentor and then prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

The movie, which hit cinemas nationwide on May 18, is based on the events leading up to Anwar's dramatic sacking from government in 1998. 

Speaking in an exclusive interview with MalaysiaNow, though, Mahathir himself insists that nothing of the sort ever happened.

When asked if he could recall the events which took place at the time, he said they had happened many years ago. 

"But no one, not even the presidents of major countries, ever behaved in such a way towards me," he said, mimicking the gesture.

"Whether it was the president of the US, Russia, or China, none of them was ever arrogant like that to me."  

"Anwar: The Untold Story" stirred controversy after it emerged that free government screenings had been held for civil servants and school students.

Questions were also raised over the producers' claim that the film had resulted in full house screenings throughout the country, with social media users sharing pictures of nearly empty cinema halls. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Mahathir, who led the country twice for a total of 24 years, said he had no intention of watching the movie. 

He also brushed off the notion that Anwar had won the majority support of the people at last year's general election, saying his one-time deputy had not received the highest number of votes. 

Citing the inconclusive results which had led to a hung Parliament, Mahathir said Anwar did not have the support of the Malay community, either. 

Even within the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, he said, Anwar's party had not won the most seats. 

"His party is PKR," he said. "The party that won the most seats in PH was DAP." 

Mahathir said he had evaluated the current administration across an appropriate period of time for observing the methods and approaches it took. 

While he had held his tongue throughout, he said Anwar lately seemed inclined to making statements and promises nearly every day, focusing only on positive matters. 

"But it cannot be done," he added. "For example, we know that the government doesn't have enough money due to its large debts. The interest alone is more than RM1 billion a year. 

"He promised more funds for the haj, he gives money freely to this person and that. 

"He makes all sorts of promises – but there is no money," he said, reiterating his view of Anwar's government as "all talk and no action"

Maintaining that he had remained silent throughout the first six months of the government's administration to allow Anwar a chance to demonstrate his leadership skills, he said he soon felt that the prime minister was unable to set a clear direction for Malaysia's development. 

He cited ongoing issues such as Covid-19, climate change, the depreciation of the ringgit, and the economic and political situation. 

"He doesn't seem capable of alleviating the political situation in the country," he said. 

"He's all about making statements. Take 'Madani government' for example – it's all talk and no action.

"He wears the baju Melayu, and it looks like that is his priority instead of implementing projects or policies that could solve the country's problems."