Mahathir's quick and largely unexpected electoral victory has sparked skepticism over handing over the bar to a former enemy like Anwar.
"Dr. Mahathir has been rather ruthless in the past – it really could not be a story that he and Anwar Ibrahim would be together again," said Gerald Ambrose, CEO of Aberdeen Islamic Asset Management.
The Prime Minister, who recently had some health problems, said Tuesday that he could reign
Standing for an ex-rival to step aside "would be a very un-Mahathir-like move … but then again Anwar's party is the largest in the coalition, and Mahathir needs Anwar's continued support, "he told Malcom Cook, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, a think-tank in Singapore.
Despite a "long and rather tormented story together, it's back to the future" for the unlikely couple, Cook said.
Wong Chen, a member of the Malaysian Parliament for Subang constituency, stressed that the governing coalition was
Wednesday "will be our happy Mandela moment," Wong said. It will be the day "Malaysia sees the future prime minister after Dr. Mahathir has shaken hands in two years."
The political prisoner is currently in a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, where he is recovering from shoulder surgery. He is expected to leave the hospital for free time around noon.
-CNBC's Sri Jegarajah contributed to this report.