Amidst speculations on the succession plan, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterates that he will step down and hand over the reins to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim within three years.
“As far as I’m concerned, I have made a promise that I will step down and Anwar will succeed me,” the prime minister told CNBC’s Tanvir Gill in Bangkok, Thailand, where he was attending an Asean summit.
When asked whether he would stay in office to oversee a reduction of Malaysia's national debt, Mahathir, who turns 94 next month, said: “No, I will not go beyond three years.”
Instead, he said his priority is to enable Malaysia to “resolve this (debt) problem” even after he steps down.
Questions on when Mahathir will step down and who will succeed him have intensified in recent weeks.
Last month on the first anniversary of the installation of the Pakatan Harapan government, he had emphasised that he was an interim prime minister but said: "I don't know whether it is three years or two years."
Even though both Mahathir and Anwar have never strayed from the narrative of the succession agreement, the fact that there is no publicly-agreed-upon timeline for the transition has led to increased calls from Anwar supporters for Mahathir to go, and Mahathir supporters for him to consider staying a whole term.
Anwar has repeatedly said he has no doubt that Mahathir will hand over the prime minister's post to him.
The PKR president had previously said that he expected to become prime minister within two years as was agreed to beforehand.
However, he stressed that it is crucial the prime minister is accorded the space to navigate the nation through troubled waters before stepping down.