MAHATHIR SHOULD APOLOGISE AND RETIRE

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong SUARAM Adviser 1 Mar 2020

The vain attempt by Mahathir to become the 8th prime minister of Malaysia should signal his final departure from the Malaysian political stage. He should apologise to all voters who voted for Pakatan Harapan at the GE14 for his reckless attempt to prevent Anwar Ibrahim from becoming the 8th PM by suddenly resigning the premiership one week ago. It was this self-centred action, without concern for the Malaysian people he was entrusted to serve, that sent the country into a power vacuum of uncertainty in the already disruptive environment of corona virus and economic crises. Despite his attempt to make a U-turn even after he had resigned as chairman of PPMB, he has failed to prevent the Agung from installing Muyhiddin as the new PM.

Unfortunately for Mahathir, last week’s treachery has led to his erstwhile allies condemning him before his latest U-turn and these quotes I enumerate cannot be erased from history:

PKR vice-president Dr Xavier Jayakumar alleged that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had all along planned the formation of a unity government. He claimed Dr Mahathir did nothing to stop the purported coup led by former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali over the weekend and chose to stay at home instead:

“Looking back during the past few days, it is now quite clear there was a plan to form a unity government without PH,” he said in a statement today. Instead of calling the elected representatives to resume administration, Xavier said Dr Mahathir seemed to have different ideas of forming a unity government with technocrats and also opted to clearly side-line PH leaders. To him, it seems there can be only one leader with full unchecked authority in making a swift decision with technocrats…No party involvement, no party leaders for checks and balances. On top of that, Dr Mahathir also refused to attend the PH council meeting and was adamant on his unity government proposal,” he said.

“The question is why can’t Dr Mahathir now hand over power to Anwar and retire peacefully? Why did he supposedly pre-empt the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over a special parliament sitting announcement?” he questioned.  “All Dr Mahathir had to do was to sack five cabinet members, reappoint and move on. Why did he allow the collapse of a legitimately elected government and now say that he wants to save the country?” he asked. 

In the eyes of another erstwhile ally, Zaid Ibrahim,

“…it is my considered opinion that Dr Mahathir Mohamed is indeed a selfish man, unmatched in the history of the country. Why did he resign as prime minister? Not because he has decided, at long last, that he no longer wants to be a prime minister, but because that’s the way to remove all the ministers in the cabinet in one swoop. When a prime minister resigns, then the cabinet ceases to exist. That’s selfish. He should not use the resignation as part of his Games of Thrones. We don’t play games with public office, we cherish and honour the opportunity to serve and do good.

“He should not have accepted the appointment by the King as caretaker PM. This is because a genuine caretaker PM facilitates the appointment of the new prime minister, whether by election or by advising the King as to the best way to know who commands the majority support. He is not supposed to facilitate his own ascension. Do you know of any interim caretaker PM who has facilitated his own power grab? None in the civilised world. Again, Malaysia is the first in the world of questionable behaviour. Mahathir obviously knew he wanted to be prime minister again, a day after he resigned. He should not use the position of caretaker for his own interest. You cannot be more selfish than this…

“He chaired the meeting when the decision for Bersatu to leave Pakatan Harapan was made, thereby rendering Harapan in a bind, especially when the number of Harapan MPs in Parliament will be affected. He obviously did this to deny Anwar Ibrahim (below) the chance to be prime minister… Another selfish decision and betrayal on those erstwhile partners of his, who made him prime minister, and over two years were forever praising him no matter how ridiculous they look in doing so. (Remember the Harapan chorus that Mahathir was not responsible for the Sheraton putsch.)”

Even the DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang condemned Mahathir’s proposal of a national unity government saying it would be the road to dictatorship by one man rather than based on the Pakatan Harapan mandate.

From the start, it was evident that Dr M had no intention of handing over the PMship to Anwar. His opinion was spelt out in a 1998 video, in which he had told the world press that Anwar was not fit to be PM because he lacked moral rectitude. Until today, despite grinning photo opportunities of he and Anwar together, he has never apologised or retracted that condemnation of Anwar. In recent days, he made it clear to all that he was prepared to work with UMNO, PAS and Azmin’s band of PKR mutineers. He also vehemently refused to be tied down to naming a date for the handover.

It was the incessant importuning by PKR and DAP leaders to name the handover date and his refusal to do so which ultimately led him to resign. The departure of his own party Parti Pribumi from the PH coalition then led to the collapse of the government. Thus, we have “gotten into this fine mess” through this really frivolous reason and not through any cataclysmic economic, political or social crisis faced by the nation!

Let us hope that a snap election will bring forth exciting young leaders who can transform our gloomy, tired and neo-liberal political scene and lead us into a progressive, just and democratic future. We would hope that Pakatan Harapan has learnt the lesson of being opportunist and lazy while relying on a quick brown fox to jump over them…

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