The bitter enmity now existing between the two men who two years ago were hailed as the 'perfect team' to lead Malaysia was reflected in the High Court testimony of one and the public remarks of the other last week. The Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, accused Anwar Ibrahim, his one-time heir apparent, of lying, causing the economy to collapse and not being qualified to be even a junior leader because he was a homosexual. Anwar, the former deputy prime minister, taking the witness stand for the first time at his sodomy trial, named four 'master conspirators', including two cabinet ministers and Dr Mahathir's political secretary, behind a 'plot' to have him removed from power with 'fabricated' charges. He also accused Dr Mahathir of brushing aside corruption allegations against two ministers and a former state chief minister. Analysts believe that much of what Dr Mahathir and Anwar say these days is influenced by the impending general election, which could hold the key to their futures. Dr Mahathir needs to counter voter antipathy towards him and the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), the dominant government party, over the sacking and arrest of Anwar. In April, the former deputy prime minister was found guilty of corruption and jailed for six years. His sodomy trial began in June. For five years, Anwar had been Dr Mahathir's deputy, seated next to him at official functions and prominently featured in the media. He was a popular figure and many Malaysians did not believe he could be guilty of the charges against him. With the election providing the first test of public support for Dr Mahathir and Umno since Anwar was sacked on September 2 last year, the Prime Minister is going all out to convince doubting voters that his former successor was not fit to take over from him. In a televised meeting with farmers, he said Anwar had been his friend but when he found out his deputy was a homosexual, he was 'not willing to allow someone like that' to be his successor. While Dr Mahathir and his party are clearly concerned that sympathy for Anwar could prompt many former Umno voters to vote for the opposition, they are justifiably confident that the coalition will win the election. However, a worry for the Prime Minister is that the coalition might lose its two-thirds control of Parliament, which could weaken Umno's dominance and lead to pressures on him to step down. While Dr Mahathir is fighting to retain office for another few years, Anwar is battling for his freedom. Opposition parties say they will arrange a pardon and make him prime minister if they win, but their victory is unlikely. This week could see the mentor and his protege confront one another for the first time since Anwar was expelled from Umno on September 3 last year. The defence has subpoenaed Dr Mahathir to appear as a witness on Thursday.