Dr Mahathir gave ultimatum at last meeting with PH: Saifuddin Nasution
Any chance of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan Harapan (PH) working together again is as good as gone after the former prime minister made it abundantly clear that he wants nothing to do with the coalition anymore.
(The Vibes) – This is after they failed to reach an agreement as recently as June over who the prime ministerial candidate should be if the coalition regains federal power.
According to PH secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Dr Mahathir conveyed this in a PH Plus leaders’ meeting on June 13.
The meeting was attended by Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal – a PH ally – along with leaders of core components PKR, DAP and Amanah.
Unless there is a change of heart, this virtually means that Dr Mahathir’s new party, Pejuang, will to go into the upcoming general election without any major ally – as he is unlikely to forge an allegiance with either Barisan Nasional or Perikatan Nasional, with whom he has a belligerent relationship.
Speaking to The Vibes, Saifuddin Nasution said Dr Mahathir, 95, had demanded to be given the opportunity to be prime minister again for 12 months before he hands over the reins to PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, as he had promised before the 14th general election in May 2018.
Dr Mahathir, who is also Langkawi MP, had initially sought to be prime minister for just half that duration in a previous meeting should the opposition reclaim Putrajaya in the next polls.
“I remember telling Dr Mahathir that I don’t think he was prepared to discuss and solve the issue of the premiership candidate,” Saifuddin Nasution, who is also PKR secretary-general, said.
“And because there was no decision that day, Tun (Dr Mahathir) said, ‘If there is no consensus, I would say today is the last meeting I want to attend with PH, and don’t want to get involved anymore with PH’.”
He added that Shafie, who was then Sabah chief minister, also said the same thing about not wanting to be involved anymore.
“That was our last meeting as we failed to reach a consensus. We wasted about four months there.”
He said in a previous meeting on June 9, Dr Mahathir had asked to be given more time at the helm as he wanted to keep his promise to hand over the prime minister’s post to Anwar.
Saifuddin Nasution had previously stated to the press that Dr Mahathir needed time to repair the damages caused by Datuk Seri Najib Razak (2009-2018) and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (since March 2020) as prime ministers.
“Dr Mahathir had said that for him to keep his promise, he needed to become the prime minister first. Do you see the logic?
“He said, ‘I want to end my political career as someone who fulfilled my promise, and that is to hand over the premiership to Anwar’,” he recalled.
However, Saifuddin Nasution said he did not believe the former prime minister was being sincere, with the latter giving so many excuses as to why Anwar should not take up the post immediately.
“Dr Mahathir had said that to be a prime minister, one has to be a leader of a Malay party, of which PKR is not, and that Anwar being a liberal is not suited for the post.”
He said Anwar had confronted Dr Mahathir on this and pointed out that it made no difference if he was to be the prime minister immediately or after a year as he will still be the same individual, but the latter kept mum.
He also lambasted Dr Mahathir for not having the courage to consult his then PH allies before announcing his abrupt resignation as prime minister in February, leading to the collapse of the PH government.
“That is the one thing I regret most, and I reminded Dr Mahathir in our last PH meeting that his action to resign without any consultation is clearly a wrong decision.
“This is especially since we have been together for many years preparing for the election until we were given the mandate. And you (Dr Mahathir) don’t have the guts to tell us,” he said.