Santiago backs down after Mahathir’s counterattacks

(FMT) – DAP MP Charles Santiago sought a ceasefire today in the war of words between him and several government leaders over his call for a review of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) decision-making process.

Speaking to reporters at an event here, he said he had no wish to prolong the issue, adding that he had merely suggested a measure that could help reduce problems in the country.

“The prime minister has already responded, so let’s leave it at that. I think that’s the best way forward,” he said at a seminar by the National Water Services Commission on river pollution and its impact on water supply in the peninsula.

Santiago recently said the power to make decisions at the executive level should be shared equally among PH component parties, especially on controversial issues involving race and religion.

He said there seemed to be too much power in the hands of the prime minister, claiming that Dr Mahathir Mohamad was making unilateral decisions for the people at a troubling frequency.

This sparked a reaction from Education Minister Maszlee Malik, who said Mahathir had always made decisions through Cabinet consensus.

Maszlee also called Santiago’s claim “an utter lie”, earning a backlash from the Klang MP who told him yesterday to “watch his words and focus on his job”.

Mahathir, too, had responded to Santiago, saying sarcastically that he would ask for the MP’s permission when making future decisions.

However, Santiago said he had only suggested that controversial issues be brought up at PH presidential council meetings, not every decision.

“After discussing the issues and coming up with a solution, the issue can be brought to the Cabinet. That’s all I’m suggesting,” he said.

He added that this is the practice in European countries as well as Indonesia, where government component parties discuss issues before bringing them to the Cabinet.

“Now it’s up to the Cabinet, the prime minister and the presidential council to make the decision. We’ll leave it at that,” he added.

On Mahathir’s comment that Santiago was on “the same level” as the prime minister, the MP said: “We’re Malaysians, we’re all on the same level.”

He added that he would gladly take Mahathir up on his offer to personally discuss any future decisions.