I warned Muhyiddin about Umno’s ‘conditional’ support, says Dr M

(FMT) – Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said he had warned his successor Muhyiddin Yassin that the support he receives from Umno for the Perikatan Nasional-led government came with conditions.

Mahathir lamented how his advice to Muhyiddin against cooperating with Umno, had not been heeded.

“Muhyiddin had said he was willing to cooperate with Umno en-bloc although he knew full well that he could be threatened by Umno if their demands were not met,” he said in a statement.

Mahathir said this in response to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s claim that he now has the support of the majority in Parliament and was ready to form a new government.

He added that going by the statement issued by Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday, it could be concluded that Muhyiddin no longer had the majority support to remain as prime minister.

Yesterday, Zahid said he had received information that many Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs had stated their support for Anwar Ibrahim to form a new government.

Mahathir said it was common knowledge that Muhyiddin’s majority in parliament was very thin, and the Pagoh MP could easily lose the majority if one or two Umno MPs decided to withdraw their support for PN.

He said Muhyiddin managed to obscure his thin support by calling party leaders to meet the King, last February, in a “wholesale calculation” of support, without detailing each and every single MP who supported him.

“What is important now is to see if the PM has the majority to remain in power. Whether Anwar has the majority is secondary.

“That is why I had asked for a confidence vote in Parliament to settle this problem. If Muhyiddin survives a no-confidence vote, then there would be no issue.

“If he loses, then the Parliament can nominate a new PM candidate and those obtaining a majority can lead the government, minus the pressure related to legitimacy,” Mahathir said.

The former PPBM chairman added that having a confidence vote in Parliament could also prevent the need for a general election in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Going back to the issue of Umno’s support for Muhyiddin, Mahathir said the Malay-based party’s support for PN clearly dropped when Najib Razak was found guilty on seven counts of corruption.

“We could see how the supporters were unhappy with Muhyiddin. It is clear what I expected all along, with Zahid confirming that Umno’s support (for PN) was conditional.”

Mahathir also warned that the support from Umno for Anwar could be conditional, as Umno’s allegiance appeared to be for Zahid and Najib.

“If the wants of these two leaders (Zahid and Najib) are not fulfilled, then they will act in the same way they did towards Muhyiddin and withdraw their support (for Anwar).