NEW YORK,. “Patron saint of political comebacks” is the latest description given to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for leading the Pakatan Harapan to victory in this year’s general election.
Asia Society Policy Institute president and former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, who coined the title when chairing a dialogue session with Dr Mahathir, was gushing in admiration for the 93-year-old over the “stunning victory” in GE14.
In introducing him to the audience at the Asia Society building here yesterday, Rudd also described him as the old-new-new-old Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Dr Mahathir, who looked bashful with the descriptions, gave a 30-minute speech where he recounted how he was chosen to lead the Pakatan Harapan coalition against the Barisan Nasional.
“They spent over 50 years criticising me and called me all sorts of names ? including dictator and unjust leader ? but when it came to this general election they had no problems choosing me to lead them,” he said.
Stressing he was not a dictator, he said dictators did not resign from their post which was what he did in 2003 and promised that he would step aside for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in two years.
On the elections, Dr Mahathir confessed that he and his PH colleagues did not expect to win “which was why we came up with a long and detailed manifesto to embarrass and put pressure on the Barisan Nasional.”
“But now we find ourselves in the embarrassing position of having to fulfil that nasty things in the manifesto but we will do it,” he said to the laughter and applause from the 300-odd audience.
Dr Mahathir is here to attended the 73rd opening of the United Nations General Assembly. He is scheduled to deliver the country’s statement today.