Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has resigned as the prime minister of Malaysia, has nothing to do with the plot to form a new ruling coalition with the opposition, said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday (24 February).
Dr Mahathir, 94, submitted his resignation letter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday after speculations that he would lead Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) to pull out from Pakatan Harapan (PH) and form a new political coalition with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and others, which would exclude Anwar, the prime-minister-in-waiting.
Back in 2018, Dr Mahathir led the PH coalition – comprising PPBM, PKR, Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara – and won the 14th general elections on 9 May 2018, toppling the 61-year-old Barisan Nasional regime in the wake of the nation’s former prime minister Najib Razak’s scandal-laden administration.
The four partners of the PH alliance had agreed for Dr Mahathir to lead the country for two years if the coalition won the 14th general election, before passing the baton to the PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim.
On 14 February, Dr Mahathir reaffirmed his stance to hand over the country’s leadership to Anwar, adding that he will quit after chairing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in November this year, Malay Mail reported.
However, on 23 February, PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali – who has been in rivalry with Anwar after the PKR polls in 2018 – was seen arriving at the Sheraton Hotel where party leaders aligned with him, including oppositions party members of UMNO and PAS gathered. This fuelled speculations of a new political coalition involving a faction led by Mr Azmin.
Following that, Mr Azmin and the PKR vice president Zuraida Kamaruddin were sacked from PKR by the party president, Mr Anwar Ibrahim.
The PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail indicated the sacking of the two leaders was due to their blatant betrayal of the party’s decision on the position of the prime minister following their involvement at the meeting at Sheraton Hotel.
Following the speculations, Mr Anwar said he had spoken to Dr Mahathir earlier that day and claimed that Dr Mahathir had nothing to do with the current political turmoil, Reuters reported.
“I think this was not him because his name was used. Those within my party and outside (are) using his name. He reiterated what he had said to me earlier – he played no part in it,” Mr Anwar told reporters after meeting with the country’s monarch.
“He made it very clear, that in no way would he work with those associated with the previous regime,” Mr Anwar added.
Mr Anwar also noted that he had appealed to Dr Mahathir against resigning.
“I did appeal to him on behalf of Keadilan and Pakatan Harapan (PH), that this treachery could be dealt with together. But of course, he has got a different mind,” Mr Anwar added. “He thought he shouldn’t be treated in that manner.”
DAP proposed for Dr Mahathir’s renomination as Malaysia’s prime minister
Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also claimed that Dr Mahathir’s resignation was sparked by his refusal to work with UMNO, a component party of the previous ruling coalition Barisan Nasional.
Mr Lim said Mahathir disagreed with plans to work with Umno “when we worked so hard to reject Umno successfully in the 2018 general election”.
“This consistency and principled stand in rejecting a corrupt Umno should be supported by all Malaysians,” he said, adding that this is “the first time that a Malaysian prime minister is prepared to resign on principle to uphold integrity and combat corruption.”
DAP also proposed for Dr Mahathir’s renomination as the nation’s prime minister.
AMANAH pledged its full support to Dr Mahathir
Parti Amanah Negara also pledged its full support to Dr Mahathir as the prime minister.
The party’s president Mohamad Sabu said in a statement, “We stand firm with PH and Tun for a better Malaysia. “
Dr Mahathir will serve as Malaysia’s interim prime minister
The country’s king has accepted Dr Mahathir’s resignation, however, he will still serve as interim prime minister until a new prime minister and cabinet are appointed, Chief Secretary Mohd Zuki Ali asserted in a statement yesterday.
Kenyataan Media berkenaan YAB Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad sebagai Perdana Menteri Interim pic.twitter.com/hVI4SgEkB8
— Mohd Zuki Ali (@zukiAli_) February 24, 2020
When Mr Anwar was asked whether he would be the next prime minister, he noted: “We shall see.”
Dr Mahathir also tendered his resignation as the Chairman of PPBM shortly after he resigned as the nation’s prime minister. However, the PPBM supreme council has unanimously rejected his resignation as the PPBM’s chairman, Malay Mail reported.