Thanks to photography, some memories overstay their welcome.

— Mokokoma Mokhonoana, philosopher, social critic and writer

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has regularly denied that he has issues with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The former has repeatedly responded with more of the same.

Both men have tried to be civil with each other in public, up to last week at least.

But the undercurrents of deep mistrust and resentment between the duo has never been buried since Dr Mahathir sacked Anwar in 1998 as deputy prime minister.

Events of the past two weeks has added more confusion and apprehension to Malaysians at large — they are flabbergasted and at a loss. The political manoeuvres of these two most senior Malaysian political leaders has caused many to lose confidence and trust in their leadership.

First, we heard that Dr Mahathir has turned up at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya to attend a Pakatan Plus meeting chaired by Anwar.

For a brief moment, Pakatan supporters heaved a sigh of relief thinking that perhaps, the two have finally decided to bury the hatchet and put the past behind them.

Then we learned that Dr Mahathir has proposed himself to be the prime minister, even for six months, if Pakatan Plus is back on the throne.

This was opposed by PKR who wanted their party president, Anwar, to be PM9. This impasse over the PM candidate has threatened to tear the coalition apart and that is getting more glaring by the day.

Returning as prime minister for the third time, and at 95, is a sick joke to me. And what is this six months thingy? It is incomprehensible to me and I believe many also find it ridiculous.

With the utmost respect to the nonagenarian, I have to ask Dr Mahathir: “What else do you hope to achieve in six months that you could not do so in your 22 years and 22 months as prime minister?”

Assuming Pakatan Harapan has not collapsed four months ago and that Dr Mahathir went on to serve his full five-year term, he would be 98 in 2023.

Who on earth desires to be prime minister at 98? Possibly, it’s also Mahathir.

The much revered Nelson Mandela willingly stepped down as president of South Africa in 1999 when he was 81. Pope Benedict XVI ended his reign as the Vicar of Christ in 2013 at 83.

I am very perplexed, even disturbed, that Dr Mahathir does not seem to recognise that he is only a mortal being. We are all mortal beings and that means we are destined to die because we are susceptible to death.

In a lighter vein, Dr Mahathir reminds me of one of my favourite American comedians, George Burns, who famously cracked that he was fully booked for his shows at 100. Burns actually reached that age in 1996 when he passed on.

In rejecting Dr Mahathir as the PM candidate, Anwar said he was open to appointing the former PM as a senior minister or minister mentor if PH regains the federal government.

Dr Mahathir flatly turned down the proposal and upon realising that he could not come back as PM9, he came up with a stunner by proposing Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal as PM candidate.

This came following a meeting between Dr Mahathir with Amanah, DAP and Warisan on June 25 where it was proposed that the Warisan president would become the PM candidate for Pakatan Plus and its allies.

The “Shafie as PM9” proposal has received mixed reactions. While some described it as Dr Mahathir’s biggest joke to date because they do not see it happening, others have welcomed it, calling it a bout of fresh air.

The plus point of a Shafie premiership is possibly the long-overdue recognition of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the federation. long with that, the proponents are hopeful that it would bring Sabahans and Sarawakians closer to their fellow Malaysians in Malaya.

However, I have my own views on the issue and questions which need answers. I do not think it is Dr Mahathir’s call on who should be prime minister. He is wrong to exert his influence and will upon the people with his personal choice.

Are we not a parliamentary democracy whereby our leaders, including the prime minister, are elected by the people? Have we forgotten that the leader of the party with the most seats gets to be the prime minister?

It is not for Dr Mahathir to choose the prime minister for us. It is the people’s choice, not that of one man.

So, what did the events of the past two weeks tell us?

Let me put it up straight. Dr Mahathir and Anwar can never be part of the same team, not in the past, not now, not ever. They will never be able to work together. Period!

In fact, I think the time has dawned that we have to let go of Dr Mahathir and Anwar and move on.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. Feedback can reach him at tribunenew2019@gmail.com