Dr Mahathir And Anwar Shake Hands For The First Time In 18 Years

"It feels like the 90s again."

Cover image via Najwan Halimi

Malaysians seem to be in a disbelief over an unexpected meeting between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday, 5 September

Dr Mahathir had made a surprise visit to the High Court and shook hands with the jailed de facto leader of the opposition alliance

Image via Astro Awani

It was reported that Dr Mahathir turned up at the Kuala Lumpur High Court in Jalan Duta to attend the hearing of an application filed by Anwar to challenge the controversial National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016.

This was apparently the first time the two men have met since 3 September 1998, according to a Facebook post by Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Anwar's wife.

It was a momentous occasion as for the first time in 18 years, Dr Mahathir and his former protégé-turned-political nemesis seemed to have make peace with each other

Image via Najwan Halimi

In 1998, Dr Mahathir who was prime minister then, stripped his deputy, Anwar, from the government and as the UMNO deputy president for alleged sexual misconduct.

Following the dismissal, Anwar was charged with sodomy and corruption, and imprisoned for six years. He condemned the conviction as false and politically motivated.

After his release, Anwar reemerged in the political scene and formed the strongest opposition Malaysia ever saw until he was jailed again in by current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's government last year.

After nearly two decades of bitter feud, the Dr Mahathir-Anwar handshake is considered to be a significant mark that signals an end to their grudges and an acknowledgement of a common enemy. Despite their political differences, in recent times, the duo have sent out a clear message and have a shared agenda, which is to oust Najib over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal.

Local netizens were quick to respond to the surprising news

While Malaysians have been buzzing with excitement over the incident, Dr Mahathir has clarified that his unscheduled visit was only a show of support for Anwar's attempt to prevent the NSC Act from being enforced in the country

Image via Astro Awani

"I don’t know about friend, but I talked to him," he said when asked if the two were now friends.

"I'm interested in his case. This is about the national security council," he added.

He added that he spoke to Anwar at length about the NSC Act and was supportive of the latter’s attempt to prevent its enforcement in Malaysia.

"As you know I’ve written on my blog and he’s doing the same thing trying to stop it. So I met him, had a long chat with him about this thing," he said.

Meanwhile, Anwar said that he was "touched" by Dr Mahathir's support

"He is hoping for my success and I am touched by his attitude," he reportedly told the press outside the Jalan Duta court yesterday, 5 September.

The former Opposition leader also revealed that Dr Mahathir had extended his best wishes and hoped that the suit against the government will be successful.

According to media reports, Anwar stressed that it was not a matter of trust with Mahathir when he was asked to comment if he trusted the former premier.

"Anyone who supports the reform agenda must be given a chance," he quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.

He added that Dr Mahathir's presence in the court is an indication that he supported the reform agenda.

Do you think that Dr Mahathir and Anwar will be a team in the near future? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

The NSC Act has been criticised on the grounds that it would give the prime minister absolute powers. Read more about the controversial act here:

In May, Anwar wrote a letter from prison, cautioning opposition leaders of their alliance with Dr Mahathir: